In spite of her much-hyped stateside success – an impressive 250,000 album sales and a hit single with the deceptively bitter break-up song ‘Smile’ – Allen remains a uniquely British prospect. Midway through the set she gratefully accepts a fag from a member of the audience; she introduces ‘Not Big’ as a song about “guys with small dicks” and she thanks tonight’s hosts for paying her a “s**tload of money” to be here. Her critics might insist that this is little more than mockney schtick from a middle-class kid from Islington, but, really, when Allen is enjoying herself this much on stage, it’s hard to work up the poe-faced indignation to care.
Backed by a three-piece brass section and a well-equipped effects panel, Allen’s jaunty ska-pop sounds almost kaleidoscopic live. ‘LDN’ is a carnival of sun-soaked dawdling and ‘Knock Em Out’ is as tough and sprightly as an Eastern bloc gymnast. Meanwhile, ‘Nan, You’re A Window Shopper’ – her parody of 50 Cent’s ode to randy romeos ‘Window Shopper’ - is underpinned by by a surprisingly ground-shaking beat. The set's highlight is arguably her heartfelt, plaintive rendition of 'Littlest Things', during which she seems close to tears. On this evidence, Allen – never less than one of the most compelling pop stars of our time – is maturing into an accomplished live performer. As she concludes her nine-song set with the slightly ludicrous fairground pomp of ‘Alfie’, hitting the high note at the end with ease, we’re reminded that the girl can sing a bit, too.