Saturday, September 01, 2007

Duff, and her tunes, are all dolled up

Hilary Duff, seen in New York state earlier this week, brought her sparkly pop to town.
Hilary Duff, seen in New York state earlier this week, brought her sparkly pop to town. (mike okoniewski/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

If Barbie were a pop star, she would be Hilary Duff. Duff came to Boston on Thursday, and Barbie was in the house: sparkly gold shorts, pretty plastic voice, devoted little girls, mall-friendly electro pop. If Malibu Barbie had a record deal, this would totally be her sound.

Duff materialized, oiled and golden on a pedestal, ready for her close-up. Lights flashed and hot dancers blew across the stage and the band played and Duff sang. Nothing sounded real, but everything sounded good. Perfect, in fact.

The 19-year-old star - one of a dying breed of Hollywood good girls whose legions of young fans first fell for her as Disney's "Lizzie McGuire" - isn't a natural on the concert stage. But for 90 minutes Duff made the most of her winning smile and trendy outfits, to which the songs seemed a brilliantly programmed soundtrack. She sang many of the tasty club confections from her new album, "Dignity," and dressed up several of her older pop tunes in synths and rock guitar. "Beat of My Heart," a bubble-headed but infectious ditty from 2005, segued into a pulsating cover of the Go-Gos' "Our Lips Are Sealed," and the symmetry was new-wave poetry.

Duff, being the courteous sort, paid tribute to her influences. She transformed Pat Benatar's "Love Is a Battlefield" from a bitter anthem into a girl-power singalong, which struck an audience-appropriate, if musically deflated, chord. Bob Marley, one can safely say, is not one of Duff's personal heroes. Inserting a chant of "everything's gonna be all right" from "No Woman No Cry" into the middle of "So Yesterday" was a good-taste gesture all but lost on the screaming tweens, who filled roughly two-thirds of the Pavilion. And it wasn't even a school night.

Boston power-pop quintet the Click Five, armed with an animated new frontman and a fresh dose of retro-rock edge, earned their own share of screaming thanks to candied hooks, tight harmonies, and adorable shag haircuts. "Jenny," the single from the group's new disc, "Modern Minds and Pastimes," is the greatest hit Weezer never wrote.

Joan Anderman can be reached at For more on music visit music/blog.

Hilary Duff captures grandstand crowd at Allentown Fair with music and moves

Hilary Duff

Hilary Duff performs at the Allentown Fair. (DENISE SANCHEZ / The Morning Call)

By Len Righi |Of The Morning Call 11:49 PM EDT, August 31, 2007

The costumes were eye catching and revealing. The choreography was flashy and pelvic-centric. The singing wasn't bad, and the six-piece band and the two backing singers didn't miss a beat.

Yes, Hilary Duff's show at the Allentown Fairgrounds Grandstand Friday night was a series of dance-pop videos come to life.

The Texas native, who will turn 20 on Sept. 28, drew a crowd of 3,549 -- substantially less than the 9,000 who turned out in 2005.

But she had the portion of the crowd on the track -- glow-stick bearing teens and pre-teens, virtually all girls and most of them accompanied by their moms or female adult chaperones -- standing on their seats and singing along through most of the 100-minute show.

Though technically proficient, Duff's performance was often impersonal and sometimes mechanical. Still, she started strong with "Play With Fire," "Danger" and "Come Clean," and reached her first high point with "Dignity," the title song of her fourth and latest disc, tapping her inner Madonna as seamy tabloid headlines flashed on a screen behind her.

Though "Gypsy Woman" was little more than excuse for Duff and her two female dancers to shake their butts and boobs, and the ballad "Someone's Watching Over Me" and "Never Stop" were yawners, she showed some cleverness with a complementary medley of "Beat of My Heart" the Go-Go's "Our Lips Are Sealed" and "Why Not."

The evening's best moment? "Wake Up," which Duff prefaced with a heartfelt explanation to her fans that despite peer and adult pressure "you can be yourself." She then sang the song like a big sister would to her younger siblings. Based on the crowd's reaction, It was a tender mother-daughter bonding moment with hugs all around.

Finishing on a high note with a fist-pumping cover of Pat Benatar's "Love Is a Battlefield" and "I Just Want You to Know Who I Am," Duff returned for an almost 25-minute encore that included "Fly," "No Work All Play" and "Stop Watching Me." Unfortunately it was 15 minutes longer than necessary.

Courtesy: Morning call