'Doors at 7:30.' Everyone knows that means support act at 8:30, main act at 9:30 if you're lucky. Everyone knows that. Right?
Wrong, apparently. By the time we arrive at The Academy at 8:20, support act La Roux have been and gone. Two chatty ladies beside us tell us they arrived half an hour ago to find the duo mid-way through their set, playing to a handful of people. Oh dear.
And so, all that remains is to wait for the headline act, Lily Allen. At €33, the tickets weren't particularly cheap but I figured that the infamous Allen would deliver value-for-money with outrageous on-stage antic and gobby outbursts. However, when Lily finally arrives onstage, sporting a demure black and white babydoll dress and thick black-rimmed glasses, I begin to realise that my expectations for the gig were some way off the mark.
'Everyone's At It' kickstarts Lily's latest album 'It's Not Me, It's You' and fulfills the same role tonight in The Academy. A rousing number, the song gets the crowd warmed up nicely and, despite the fact that the Dublin gig is just the second date of her world tour, the performer shows no sign of jitters.
Allen follows this up with a selection of other tracks from her current album such as 'Who'd Have Known', 'Chinese' and 'He Wasn't There', which she dedicates to her father. The set is peppered with snatches of earlier work like 'Everything's Just Wonderful' and 'LDN'. A live version of her cover of Kaiser Chiefs' 'Oh My God' is decidedly less pedestrian than the original version, recorded with Mark Ronson, and goes down a treat.
Anybody hoping for a drunken mess, hurling abuse at her audience will surely be disappointed because, on stage, Lily comes across extremely likeable and humble. Although banter between songs is kept to a minimum, she smiles throughout the set and occasionally bursts into fits of giggles mid-song, looking slightly bewildered by the response from the crowd.
The most surprising thing about Lily Allen is her voice. Granted, her songs aren't especially vocally challenging but, for whatever reason, I didn't expect her to be quite as tuneful. Her voice is sweet but powerful and only on 'Back to the Start' is she noticeably drowned out by the band. The music may not be all that sonically adventurous but Lily proves herself an able pop performer.
Highlights of the night are upcoming single 'Not Fair', earnest ballad '22' and the anthemic 'Fuck You', which inspires a dance move unlikely to be taught to members of the kids' club at Trabolgan any time soon.
Shortly after flashing her bum at the audience while exiting the stage, Allen returns for an encore, dressed in a simple white dress. Her debut single 'Smile' is given a new lease of life by the band's reworking of the track but the biggest cheer of the night is reserved for recent single 'The Fear'. A cover of Britney's 'Womanizer' is perhaps an unusual choice of swansong but the crowd lap it up.
Over the past couple of years, it has seemed that Lily Allen might follow Amy Winehouse and Britney down the path of self-destruction but, on tonight's evidence, it seems she has exorcised her demons and is very much alright, still.