Bill’s best: Ashlee

Originally published July 8, 2006, in the Cape Cod Times


HYANNIS – A conversation between the reviewer and one of his imaginary inner children, a 17-year-old named Lexa, just after Thursday’s concert at the Cape Cod Melody Tent.

Lexa: That was amazing.

Bill: That was amazingly loud. What did you like best?

L: Ashlee Simpson is one of my role models. She makes me feel like it’s OK to be me. I love that about her.

B: Very empowering. Like Joni Mitchell or Chrissie Hynde?

L: Who are they?

B: Like Sheryl Crow?

L: Maybe. Isn’t she kind of old? I meant like Amy Lee.

B: Who’s she?

L: I liked her outfit, too. The black spaghetti-strap top, the snug black jeans, the chunky white belt and the black Chuck Taylors. She looked sexy without being trampy.

B: That is a fine line. There were so many screaming teenage girls and college-age women. I felt a little weird being there, kind of like Aqualung.

L: Who’s that?

B: That’s an old guy in a Jethro Tull song who –

L: Who’s Jethro Tull?

B: Never mind. The audience was the loudest I’ve heard since last summer’s Lynyrd Skynyrd show.

L: Who’s Lynyrd –

B: Never mind. I can see why you and the rest of her fans love her. People were really into it. The flashes from the camera phones were almost blinding at times. Ashlee’s got a ton of energy and a lot of stage presence. I guess that’s what happens when you’ve had two No. 1 CDs by the time you’re 21. I was impressed how she really belted out the opening song, “I Am Me,” like she was ready to prove her voice was her own.

L: Are you talking about that lip-syncing thing on “Saturday Night Live”? Everyone makes mistakes.

B: Everyone who lip syncs.

L: Whatever.

B: She’s no Kelly Clarkson, but if she had been on “American Idol,” she wouldn’t have been the first person voted off. Of course being Jessica Simpson’s sister had to help her career.

L: But that’s just it. She’s a rocker who’s doing her own thing. She’s not a Jessica wannabe.

B: The band was OK – somewhere between Scandal and Joan Jett.

L: Who are they?

B: Never mind. When she did the two encore songs, “L.O.V.E.” and “Pieces of Me,” it hit me. Forget Jessica. She’s more like Alanis Morissette’s kid sister.

L: I know who that is. Classic rock, right?

B: Kind of.

L: What did you like best?

B: When the lights came up at the end.

L: Big jerk.

B: It was cool when the words came out when she moved her lips.

L: Cut it out.

B: Just kidding. “Catch Me When I Fall” is the kind of power ballad that’s a perfect “our song” for two rock fans in love. Her band was more expressive than creative, but I liked it when they pogoed on “Autobiography.” The two guitarists made some heavy-metal thunder on “Invisible.” Then the next song was “Beautifully Broken,” which shows Ashlee can shift gears and still captivate her audience.

L: I love that song. Her speech before the song gave some good advice: “Look forward. Look to the future.”

B: She does seem very positive, and her dance moves don’t seem overly slick and choreographed. She comes across as a little ditzy, but in a way that’s cute and easy to relate to. She got so much bad press over the “Saturday Night Live” fiasco that now it’s easy to root for her.

L: I’ll remember this show forever.

B: I bet you will. Maybe it’ll be for different reasons, but me, too.

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