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Jeremy Williams-Chalmers
Arts Correspondent
@jeremydwilliams
12:00 AM 5th July 2024
arts
Review

Avril Lavigne, Castlefield Bowl, Manchester

 
Avril Lavigne concert
Photo:  Lewis Roberts ©
Avril Lavigne concert Photo: Lewis Roberts ©
Avril Lavigne proved at Glastonbury that punk pop is far from over. With 70,000 turning up to see her set, many questioned why she wasn’t selected for the Legends slot or the Pyramid Stage. Regardless, she gave Glastonbury a euphoric sing-along, which she is currently performing around the world as part of her Greatest Hits celebration. 22 years into a recording career, with 7 albums under her belt, the setting in Manchester was maybe a little more intimate, but the Castlefield Bowl was abuzz with anticipation for one of Canada’s finest exports on a rather sunny night.

Before Lavigne took centre stage, her friend Phem warmed up the audience with a solid set. However, it was Simple Plan's arrival on stage that began the nostalgia trip that would make for a truly memorable evening. Having supported Lavigne on her first ever tour, it was truly fitting that her good friends would share the stage with her once again. Also, at 22 years into their career, they may have one album less than Lavigne, but their showmanship and back catalogue are truly notable. The set highlights included I'm Just a Kid and Summer Paradise, which featured cuts from throughout their careers.

Avril Lavigne
Photo:  Lewis Roberts ©
Avril Lavigne Photo: Lewis Roberts ©
However, it was the arrival of Lavigne on stage that caused the audience to erupt into a truly unforgettable sing-along. Lavigne is truly a likeable presence, working through old and new material with brief clips showcasing her career to date. Interacting regularly with her audience, she made the outdoor arena feel like an intimate space. Opening the show with the irrepressible earworm Girlfriend, she got her audience bouncing from the get-go, and the excitement built from that moment on.

Avril Lavigne
Photo:  Lewis Roberts ©
Avril Lavigne Photo: Lewis Roberts ©
While her debut single, Complicated, appeared early in the set, she built through Smile, He Wasn't, and Losing Grip to an unforgettable rendition of Simple Plan's Addicted (featuring the band themselves), as well as the rather epic Sk8er Boi.

Avril Lavigne
Photo:  Lewis Roberts ©
Avril Lavigne Photo: Lewis Roberts ©
Although she could have ended the night with one of her biggest hits, she cleverly returned to the stage to deliver three of her most touching moments to date. Opening her encore with the truly beautiful Head Above Water, she showed the depth of her vocal talents in a spine-tingling moment. From there, she headed to the lush When You’re Gone before closing with the true classic, I’m With You.

Pop punk anthems may be Avril Lavigne's most enduring legacy, but her Greatest Hits tour demonstrated her versatility. This was a truly momentous show from an artist who understands her audience, is able to connect with them intensely, and has the songwriting power to back up her truly killer vocals.