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Avril Lavigne enjoys a successful mall outing

Prudential Building, Boston, Mass., March 16, 2004

By Jeffrey B. Remz

BOSTON - Avril Lavigne's second disc hasn't dropped just yet, and that has given the diminutive Canadian time to hit the malls.

But Lavigne isn't shopping for the usual items in her visits to about 20 malls in the U.S. and Canada. Nope, she's looking to generate enthusiasm in the wake of her May release "Under My Skin."

And judging from her 6-song, 30-minute acoustic performance in the food court of the Prudential Mall in downtown Boston before a mainly young female crowd of about 1,000 people, Lavigne ought to have no problem in a few months.

Lavigne had tremendous success with her debut, "Let's Go," and huge hits with "Complicated" and "Sk8er Boi," as well as scoring with "Losing Grip" and "I'm With You."

Fortunately, for Lavigne, she did not tour incessantly despite selling six million and leading to overkill of the Lavigne machine.

But the focus on this tour is showcasing songs from the forthcoming album.

And Lavigne, with blonde streaks and dressed in a Chicago Bulls shirt, black pants and black shoes with skulls drawn on them, demonstrated that her the talents from a few years ago aren't on the wane.

Lavigne, still barely a teen at 19, is maturing. Her subject matter on the new songs tends to deal with females not taking a backseat in a relationship going nowhere and making the right choices. That was evident in the leadoff song "He Wasn't" where the female is sitting on the bed "staring at the phone."

A slower song, "My Happy Ending," focused on the end of a relationship with the realization that a "memory so close to me just faded away." Here as elsewhere, Lavigne's vocal delivery was forceful. She also showed the ability to hit high notes.

Lavigne was aided throughout by Evan Taubenfeld on acoustic guitar and backing vocals. He also co-wrote the first single, "Don't Tell Me" and "Take Me Away," both of which were performed. The latter was not quite as radio friendly, but showed musical diversity.

Lavigne also sings of feelings and floundering, such as "Nobody's Home," written with Ben Moody, formerly of Evanescence. "She's lost inside," sang Lavigne.

In addition to a sing along with "Sk8er Boi," Lavigne closed with "Complicated." While similar to the album versions, what made it particularly enjoyable was hearing it in an acoustic setting, giving a different sound and putting the emphasis on the voice and lyrics.

Greeted with shrieks and occasional hollers, the crowd was clearly in Lavigne's corner

Heather Landry of Boston, who happened by while walking in the area and called her teenage kids to tell them who she was seeing in concert, thought "she was really good. You could tell she's a good songwriter. Today, anyone who can sing and play the guitar the same time..."

And Burrillville, R.I. high school senior Melissa Joseph remained devoted. "I like her because she's her own person," a reference to the Britney Spears of the world. "She sings her own songs and doesn't care what anyone else says. She can be a role vocal. Her voice, her range - I didn't know she had that kind of range."

It will be interesting to see just where "Under My Skin" takes Lavigne. She certainly didn't seem to be resting on her laurels. No doubt about it that Lavigne has the goods once again with high quality songs and vocals with a lot of edge to them. Whether her fans will remain, who knows? In this fickle musical world, nothing can be taken for granted, but Lavigne should have bought herself a few more believers from her mall outing.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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