April 11, 2003
Corel Centre, Ottawa - April 10, 2003
Juno winner thrills sold-out crowd
By ANN MARIE MCQUEEN -- Ottawa Sun

OTTAWA -- A mini-van isn't exactly the place one would expect to see the message "Avril Rawks" scrawled in removable white paint.

But when the majority of your fans are teenagers and you also appear to have a lock on the 7-9 bracket, hey, they need their parents to drive them to the show.

It was a more mature Avril Lavigne who entertained a sold-out crowd of 13,000 at the Corel Centre last night, much polished since her last concert in the capital during last summer's SuperEx.

A month-long European tour, international stardom, losing out on a bunch of Grammy Awards and then winning four Junos -- two picked up in the same building just four nights before -- will do that.

Though she was two hours from her home town of Napanee, and light years from that life she left less than three years ago, it seemed as though Lavigne had brought the North American headlining tour she's been longing for home.

"I'm just going to give a shout out to my mom, my brother and sister and my girl friends from school," she yelled early on.

And there seemed to be a huge Napanee contingent among the two-fingered saluting crowd, many of them wearing Napanee Home Hardware T-shirts.

Until Lavigne and the rest of her band donned Ottawa Senators jerseys for the their encore version of Things I'll Never Say Lavigne wore a blue T-shirt, black cargo pants, argyle socks, and a large watch chain which briefly caught her up early in the show.

Her guitarist, Evan Taubenfeld, took over while she sorted it out.

"We were just here the other night," he shouted.

"And it's great to be back," she chimed in.

It was the second night of the tour, which kicked off in Toronto and heads to Montreal tonight, and already Lavigne seems quite comfortable in front of a crowd.

Her latest singles, Losing Grip and I'm With You got the biggest rise out of the crowd, and Lavigne added spice to her overplayed debut, Complicated, by dragging two people from the crowd on stage.

Melanie, 16, and Shaun, 17, (or Sean, or Shawn, he didn't spell it) were enthusiastic singers and GREAT backup dancers.

Lavigne opened with her hit Sk8er Boi and proved she's really more of a running-around or holding-the-microphone performer than anything else. She got the audience jumping for almost all of My World, a song about growing up in Napanee.

"Every time I do that song, I remind me of how much I'm out of shape," she said, panting.

Lavigne stopped to grab flowers and a teddy bear from fans, and at one point jumped on a security guard's soldiers for a quick romp through the crowd.

In between other songs from her 13-track debut Let Go -- like Nobody's Fool and Mobile -- she introduced an off-colour B-side called I Don't Care and led her four-piece band with a convincing rendition of Green Day's Basket Case.

And for web critics who argue Lavigne can pull off only a repeated "mystery chord" on her guitar, she pulled an electric version twice and then strapped on an acoustic to play a low-key Tomorrow.

As an added bonus, opening bands Swollen Members and Gob also had the crowd cheering and singing. (More on Avril Lavigne)

JAM! Rating: 4 out of 5