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Concert Reviews:
Avril Lavigne keeps her head well above water at Fox Theatre

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup, @GraffonMusic on Twitter

Posted: Sunday, September 29, 2019

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DETROIT -- Absence, in the form of five years away from touring, certainly made Avril Lavigne's fans' hearts grow fonder. And Lavigne certainly noticed on Saturday night, Sept. 28, at the Fox Theatre.

The Canadian-born singer, who's grown from teen sensation to pop chanteuse (she turned 35, in fact, on Friday, Sept. 27), was filled with gratitude throughout her Head Above Water Tour stop, one of just 15 dates on the trek's initial leg. She offered thanks from the get-go and kept it coming throughout the 14-song, nearly 75-minute show, referencing in only general terms the tumult of the past five years -- including a debilitating bout of Lyme disease and a separation from her second husband, Nickelback's Chad Kroeger.

Lavigne mostly repaid the fans' patience with the show itself, a straightforward trifle, following a buoyant opening set by Jagwar Twin, during which she straddled a line between catchy and sometimes kitschy rock and torchy pop and, accompanied by a five-piece band, managed to knit the two together in convincing fashion. She can still rock her way through the anthemic likes of "Sk8er Boi," "He Wasn't" and "My Happy Ending," but Lavigne's zone these days is power ballads such as "Warrior," "I Fell in Love with the Devil" and the new "Head Above Water" album's title track -- the latter two accompanied by their lavish musicís on a screen behind the stage.

Lavigne also surprised the crowd with a truncated rendition of "Breakaway," which she co-wrote for her debut album in 2002 but instead gave to Kelly Clarkson, who had a Top 10 hit with it two years later. And even without Nicki Minaj, "Dumb Blonde," also played in shortened form, was energetic and even empowering fun.

Lavigne did, thankfully, keep the show free of most pop diva trappings. She changed outfits a modest three times, spending most of the night in a vintage T-shirt accented with a feathery red Tulle ruffles. There were neither dancers no confetti, no gratuitous walk into the crowd, and any pyrotechnics were on the video screen. It felt, in some ways, like a tentative step back onto the stage, though Lavigne was certainly poised and confident, striding across the Fox stage front to slap hands with those in the front rows.

She may sing "Here's to Never Growing Up" but Lavigne certainly has during her time away. And while there may not be as many of them these days, on Saturday night her fans, many of them also 17 years older from when they caught on to "Complicated," were clearly with her for that ride.Avr

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