On a stormy New York City night, the always-cheeky, always-entertaining Lily Allen thrilled the crowd at the Manhattan Center’s stunning Grand Ballroom with a typically irresistible spectacle featuring multiple costume changes and a battery of back-up dancers. The set focused on her brand-new release, Sheezus — her return to recording after a five-year hiatus—including the two singles, “Hard Out Here” and “Air Balloon,” which were simultaneous Top Ten hits in the UK and closed with two of her signature smashes, “The Fear” and “Not Fair.”
London-born pop artist Lily Allen was one of the first musicians to launch her career through internet social media. After dropping out of school at the age of 15, she signed with Regal Recordings and in 2005, began posting demos on her MySpace page. Her cheeky lyrics and mash-up of reggae, hip-hop, and ska garnered massive fan and media attention. Allen’s debut album, Alright, Still, was released in 2006, led by its single, “Smile.” The album received a Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Music Album and was named one of the best albums of the year by Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, and Entertainment Weekly. In 2009, Allen released her second album, the more electropop-inspired It’s Not Me, It’s You. The album debuted at the top of the charts in the UK, Canada, and Australia, and in the Top 5 in the US. After two years of intense touring, Allen went on hiatus to focus on starting a family. She returned in 2014 with the release of her third album, Sheezus. The album has produced two top 10 hits in the UK, “Hard Out Here” and “Air Balloon.”
The Manhattan Center was originally built by Oscar Hammerstein I in 1906 as the Manhattan Opera House, a place where the New York public could experience high-quality opera at affordable prices. In 1911, due to competition with the Metropolitan Opera, the building reopened as a “combination” house, featuring vaudeville acts and concerts. The Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite of Free Masonry purchased the building in 1922 and built the Grand Ballroom and a new facade. Beginning in 1926 with a recording of the New York Philharmonic for the Warner Bros. film Don Juan – the first recorded soundtrack for a commercial film – the center became a popular recording and performance location, hosting such legends as Judy Garland, Leonard Bernstein, David Bowie, the Grateful Dead, and Bob Marley.