Live: Hilary Duff at Radio City Music Hall

Hilary Duff August 27, 2007 Radio City Music Hall By Ben Westhoff

Fresh off her Maxim cover shoot, Hilary Duff challenged her audience last night at Radio City Music Hall by playing songs written decades before some of them were born. Her hit Go-Go’s remake “Our Lips Are Sealed” and cover of Pat Benatar’s “Love Is A Battlefield,” for example, were clearly pandering to the parents in attendance.

You would pander to parents, too, if they were responsible for driving your fans home. Glow-stick bearing teens, pre-teens and kids as young as four, mostly perched atop dad’s shoulders or in mom’s arms, dominated the sold-out show. All girls, of course. At one point they closed a men’s bathroom, to men, so the little ladies could tinkle. I felt like a straight woman in one of those hard-bodied gay clubs.

The show itself featured pretty racy stuff for children who aren’t old enough to read. The 19-year-old Duff emerged in black heels, silver lam´ cutoffs and coveralls that plunged below her gold bandeau top. Though she never got down to the black bustier she wears in her “With Love” video (the one which features an elevator and feels like a perfume ad), the video played on the screen while she sang that particular ditty.

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Sang may be a stretch; I’m guessing her live voice was about 30 percent of the vocal mix coming out of the speakers. Much more bizarre were the karaoke drummers, who looked like they were having a lot of fun hitting symbols cymbals that didn’t crash. But the skullcap-clad ax-grinder who took center stage for a fake guitar solo truly had the best gig; Guitar Hero players should be so lucky. The highlight of the night was “Come Clean,” the theme to Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County and a really, really good tune. Like the rest of her songs, it’s pure pop, featuring no elements of hip-hop, techno, country, or anything else subversive.

Despite the Maxim shoot (which doesn’t seem to have drawn a single heterosexual non-Dad male to the show), Duff seems to be emerging as what she set out to be – the anti-Lindsay Lohan. In an interview with me a few years ago (scroll down: here) she bragged about not “trying to show off my boobs and butt like some people.” Her most recent album is called Dignity, and she presumably has no plans to enter rehab.

But her main competition isn’t Lindsay anymore—it’s that High School Musical juggernaut. Sadly, Disney seems to have found younger, blonder, more energetic talent than her. There are even boys! She must be aware of this. In fact, during one of her brief inspirational speeches she Freudian slipped by announcing “We're all in this together,” which is the name of the original telefilm's finale.

But I think Hil should just stick to her game plan (recycling ‘80s riffs or whatever). Her show was utterly watchable; not too loud, boring, or long. Much better than Six Parts Seven. Here’s hoping she’s still relevant by the time I’m old enough to be a dad.


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