Avril Lavigne performing at Rogers Arena, Vancouver - May 22nd 2024 © Jamie Taylor

Live Review: Avril Lavigne @ Rogers Arena, Vancouver – May 22nd 2024

Written by Krysten Maier

The pop-punk princess herself, Avril Lavigne, kicked off her sprawling North American tour in Vancouver this week. Canada’s small-town homegirl proved she is still in hot demand, playing a large-scale stadium show to a jam-packed house at Rogers Arena. 

“Who here is over thirty?” Avril called out to the crowd during her set. A good chunk of the crowd roared, having grown up with the singer. “Well tonight we’re seventeen again!” she cried, toasting to never growing up. The artist seemed filled with joy for the chance to time travel through her music with this Greatest Hits Tour. Who wouldn’t want to travel back to that moment, at least just for a short while? Especially for Lavigne who, as a fresh-faced seventeen-year-old, was remarkably breaking records and touching the world with a new and irresistible sound. 

Avril Lavigne performing at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, BC on May 22nd 2024

So many in the crowd were there to scratch that same itch, filling in a colouring page from their youth that they missed or reliving a moment. For those who played their copy of Let Go until it was scratched and skipped, you don’t pass up on the opportunity to belt along to all the classics alongside Avril in the flesh.

But Avril is so much more than a nostalgia trip. She has earned the status of a full-blown cultural icon, not just in the realm of Canada, but on a global scale. As so many of the fashions and trends of the turn of the millennium have clawed their way back into popularity, it seems stars like Avril Lavigne have been passed down too, as she has clearly accrued a strong Gen Z fan presence. I have no doubt that young women now connect with the songstress in the exact same way that I did as a teen–her angst and tenderness, expressions of frivolity and doubt alike resonate across the decades.

Supporting Avril on this leg of the tour were rebellious indie pop gem Royal & the Serpent and fellow stalwarts of the 00s pop-punk scene All Time Low. Royal relished at the moment to showcase her latest single “Kinda Smacks” and viral pandemic hit “Overwhelmed”. Fresh off her first headline tour, the New Jersey singer-songwriter tread the line between electronic and punk rocking sounds in her unique expression.

All Time Low performing at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, BC on May 22nd 2024

All Time Low played a sizeable set, standing on the shoulders of those more gargantuan acts that came just before them. Yet ATL still very much have skin in the game having recently released their ninth studio album. Like Avril and her pop-punk cohorts, the group has managed to transcend generations, with a huge contingent of hardcore fans in attendance leaping to their feet and waving their arms back and forth organically during “Something’s Gotta Give”.

Familiar or not, the energetic lads did a fantastic job of getting the crowd amped, briefly invoking the intro to Legally Blonde with a compact cover of “Perfect Day”, and rousing a singalong during their own hit “Monsters”. “Whether you know us or not,” pontificated frontman Alex Gaskarth, “Consider this the moment we connect.” And connect they did, playing a powerhouse set and leaving it on their clear anthem, “Dear Maria, Count Me In”.

Anticipation bubbled over before the main event, and concert-goers amused themselves by getting the wave started around the auditorium and conducting singalongs to the quintessential 00s playlist. At last, the lights finally dimmed and an Avril retrospective flashed in a heart and crossbones frame, her signature binder doodle-style scribbling in animations across the screens. Finally, the singer’s diminutive frame emerged on a massive raised platform that looked like a wall of amps, sporting a distinctive goth jock style in a pleated leather skirt and black jersey with a skull and pink accents. 

Avril Lavigne performing at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, BC on May 22nd 2024

Coming in hot with “Girlfriend”, the whole room was bopping and Avril wasted no time starting the party, discharging pink streamers from confetti cannons that would light up the room across the set. Her piercing voice sounded spot on in the upbeat earworm “What the Hell” as she jumped from album to album. “Complicated” had everyone belting along after a reflection on her humble roots over the song’s opening strains. She explained that she played her first-ever show at the Commodore back when she was seventeen and living in Vancouver. “Seventeen-year-old me would have had no fucking idea that I would be here tonight, twenty-two years later, at Rogers Arena sold out! I mean how fucking cool is that?”

It was interesting to hear the progression of Lavigne’s sound in this curated selection, some of her newer stuff reflecting a slight country/adult contemporary side that nods to her origins as a singer. She’s embraced a softer side and undeniably evolved–even to that extent that drives a pervasive conspiracy theory that the real Avril was replaced with a lookalike years ago. In reality, that’s just a product of growing up and exploring different sides of yourself. Nevertheless, the singer still unleashes her wilder youth, rocking out on the guitar for a moody “Happy Ending” and fun Travis Barker collab “Bite Me”.

Having started to welcome more and more to co-songwriting, Avril even dropped a track last year with openers All Time Low. Naturally, she invited the guys up to play their catchy tune “Fake As Hell” in one big jam, the woman bringing soaring octaves in the unison chorus. During the party on stage, Avril declared that it would be fun to bring an audience member up on stage.  Bantering with ATL’s Alex she pondered who she should bring up, she finally decided, “Let’s bring up someone who looks like meeee!” With Joanne McNally’s “Who Replaced Avril Lavigne” podcast still fresh in my mind, I couldn’t help but chuckle at this soundbite, as if this allegedly “fake April” was ever searching for future doubles to replace and free her. I dispensed with my conspiratorial train of thought as she plucked a 20-year-old in a white tank top and a loosely knotted tie up onto the stage with her friend. The fans had a once-in-a-lifetime meet-and-greet with the punk princess–a quick convo, a couple of incredible selfies, and even a custom skateboard deck signed by the woman in front of their eyes.

Avril Lavigne performing at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, BC on May 22nd 2024

The fans seemed undeterred, however, absorbed by the star from start to finish amidst outfit changes and interspersed video clips highlighting her career. Avril took time to share the love in a heartfelt speech expressing how she wouldn’t be here tonight,pulled up out of Napanee, Ontario and onto the global stage, without her amazing fans. “You do a lot in twenty two years…ups and downs…this is the place called life. The thing that’s always been there for me is my music, and knowing that there are people out there who want to listen to my music. That shit keeps me the fuck alive!” she expressed in her upbeat and sincere manner. She gave the fans what they wanted, singing a rousing rendition of the pervasive hit “Sk8r Boi” before giving a brief goodbye and leaving the stage.

The tour had all the accoutrements of a major pop stage show, with a big band, impressive lighting rigs, and lots of dynamic visual elements. Still, the production would have benefitted from another rehearsal or tech check, as the sound faltered in several instances. Avril’s vocals sadly washed out in an unbalanced mix for a portion of the show and resulted in a bit of a crunchy set. While feedback on a mic is certainly not out of place at a punk gig, it definitely felt awry at this, which was leaning heavily into a polished pop show. Put it down to working out the kinks in the early stages of the tour.

Avril Lavigne performing at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, BC on May 22nd 2024

In a big build-up to the encore, a swish but unnecessarily long video played, showing glimpses of the mature Avril on moody cliffsides and plunging dramatically into the sea. As the third best-selling female Canadian artist of all time, Lavigne clearly wanted to have her diva moment a la Celine Dion. She delivered it in spades, beautifully belting newer “Head Above Water”, all the mic issues having cleared up nicely. And of course then there was nothing left to do but lead an all-encompassing singalong to “I’m With You”, the lights of 20,000 cell phones making the room sparkle dazzlingly. 

Lavigne delivered what she set out to do, serving up all the hits, but at the same time, I wish she had seized the moment to explore even more of the corners of her back catalogue to round out the show. Nevertheless, it was great to catch a glimpse of this iconic figure from my youth, giving everyone in attendance a fun release and memorable experience. 

Set List

What the Hell 
Here’s to Never Growing Up 
My Happy Ending 
He Wasn’t 
Don’t Tell Me
When You’re Gone
Fake As Hell
Bite Me
Love It When You Hate Me
Sk8r Boi

Head Above Water
I’m With You

Photos © Jamie Taylor

Owner + Editor In Chief + Concert Photographer

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