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Avril Lavigne Lights Up the Roxy With Travis Barker and Machine Gun Kelly for ‘Love Sux’ Release: Concert Review

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 25:
Courtesy SiriusXM

In the 20 years since Avril Lavigne set fire to the music scene with her debut album, “Let Go,” the princess of pop-punk has lived several lives. She’s released six albums since then, incorporating every genre from bubblegum pop to R&B, rock and even J-pop. But as the ever-youthful Lavigne took the stage at the Roxy Theatre in West Hollywood Friday night, fresh off the release of her newest album, “Love Sux,” it was as if no time had passed at all.

The cultural movement Lavigne led in the early 2000s has seen a revival of late, with a younger generation — from Olivia Rodrigo to Halsey — taking on pop-punk for a new wave of fans. The Canadian-born singer is now staking her claim as the genre’s rightful heir. On Friday, she was surrounded by the collaborators who have joined her along the way, from album producers John Feldmann, superstar drummer Travis Barker, boyfriend Mod Sun and heartthrob rocker Machine Gun Kelly. Even Willow, with whom Lavigne and Barker collaborated last year on the singer’s angsty anthem “Grow,” was in the audience.

Sporting her signature bone-straight hair with orange ombré and framed by a display of the black balloons seen on the cover of “Love Sux,” Lavigne beamed with pride throughout the intimate show hosted by Sirius XM and Pandora for their Small Stage Series. She wasted no time reminding the audience that she’s the “motherfucking princess,” kicking off her set with Grammy-nominated songs “Sk8er Boi” and “Complicated” and the electrifying 2011 single “What The Hell,” her bright voice cutting through the thunderous band behind her.

With a bottle of Veuve Clicquot in her hand, the 37-year-old Lavigne pointed out that she saw “lots of familiar faces” in the audience, and jokingly called them “Avril Band-Aids,” a reference to the devoted groupies of Cameron Crowe’s “Almost Famous.”

“I’m trying to think of what I should play or who I should maybe ask to come up and join us,” Lavigne coyly remarked before welcoming Barker on stage for a performance of her latest hit, “Bite Me.”

While Lavigne held her bejeweled orange microphone center stage, all eyes were on the shirtless Barker as he demolished the drum kit and breathed new life into the concert with Lavigne’s 2007 pop masterpiece, “Girlfriend.” Even the lights seemed to forget whose show it was as they directed the spotlight to the Blink-182 drummer, with Lavigne momentarily in the dark before the lights returned and orange and black confetti exploded from the front of the stage.

The show climaxed with the debut performance of “Bois Lie,” Lavigne’s duet with the pink-haired Kelly, who walked on stage to shrieks from the audience, smoking a joint and wearing a shirt that read “Just Need Hugs.” Lavigne appeared almost demure next to the maniacal energy of Kelly, who concluded the performance by spraying a bottle of champagne over the audience, with Lavigne following in his footsteps.

“It’s an honor to be on this album,” Kelly said after their performance concluded. “I think we all grew up on you, Avril.” He then joked that he was still learning the song’s “confusing” lyrics, adding, “By the third time I perform it I’ll have it, for sure.”

The evening mellowed briefly with a sunset-colored performance of “Here’s to Never Growing Up,” with the crowd singing along to the lyrics about “Singing Radiohead at the top of our lungs/ With the boom box blaring as we’re falling in love.” Lavigne then commented on the cheeky title of her new album, “Love Sux,” saying, “I know it’s quite the statement, but that’s how I was feeling when I started it,” as if to remind the crowd that she is very much in love with her more extroverted collaborator Mod Sun, who cranked up the energy again with a performance of their duet “Flames.” The two shared a kiss and a hug before Mod Sun stepped offstage again.

Then, a sentimental goodbye as Lavigne wrapped up the concert with a performance of another “Let Go” single, “I’m With You.” The respite from the chilly Los Angeles night and the turmoil of the outside world was almost over, but not before one last sing-along to a ballad that colored so many audience members’ childhoods.

“It’s a damn cold night/ Trying to figure out this life/ Won’t you take me by the hand?/ Take me somewhere new/ I don’t know who you are/ But I, I’m with you,” the crowd chanted, before one final explosion of confetti marked the end of the evening’s escape from reality.

Here was Avril Lavigne’s set list for the evening:

“Sk8er Boi”
“What the Hell”
“Complicated”
“Bite Me”*
“Girlfriend”*
“Love It When You Hate Me”*
“Bois Lie” (with Machine Gun Kelly)*
“Here’s to Never Growing Up”
“Flames” (with Mod Sun)
“I’m With You”

*(with Travis Barker)

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