Love Sux, But This Singer-Songwriter Rocks
Story by Matthew St. Amand
Photography by Joe Termini
Canadian rocker, Avril Lavigne, performs at the Colosseum at Caesars Windsor on Thursday May 12. For many, the experience will be like time travel. After two years of health mandates and restrictions on gathering, attending an actual rock concert feels like a throwback to another time.
So, it’s particularly appropriate that Avril is among the first acts to play Caesars Windsor following the “new normal.” After all, her first album, Let Go, was born into a world of flip phones and Netscape Navigator. YouTube didn’t exist at the time. The year was 2002. MuchMusic and MTV still played music videos at that time, and Avril lit up the charts like a flamethrower with her debut musical effort.
This year “Complicated,” “Sk8tr Boi,” and the rest of their sonic siblings are twenty years old. How can it be? More surprising to the naysayers, who figured most of the teenaged rock stars from the early 2000s would be “one hit wonders,” Avril Lavigne is still around. Bigger, badder, better than ever.
Avril has a new album called, Love Sux, released through DTA Records with Travis Barker. She also has a year-long, multi-nation tour planned—the Colosseum at Caesars Windsor is among her first stops along the way. To look at the star, herself, it’s almost as though no time at all has passed since she first burst onto the scene. Avril leaves the aging to others. She remains an indomitable figure in her music videos, with her sphinx-like stare and her seismic vocals.
Avril spoke with Windsor Life recently, answering questions about life, work and the road.
Asked how she has remained a major force in contemporary music for the past two decades, she says: “By keeping it real, being a songwriter. It’s been important to me, writing about what I go through. Sometimes I make it funny…”
She continues: “Like with this album, poking fun at the crazy things that love does to us. Being as real and honest and raw as possible. I think people connect with that.”
When Avril speaks of “crazy things,” she means crazy things. Among other visual oddities in the official music video for her song “Bite Me,” the viewer finds a gang of four very upset strong men clad in ballerina tutus. One of the strong men wields a chainsaw. Others smash plates of food and break cartoonishly large liquor bottles over their heads. The target of their anger is a guy who has presumably wronged the song’s narrator. An online pop culture scholar suggests the strong men embody Avril’s interior rage. True or not, Avril’s performance in the video swings between coquettish and ferocious.
Avril’s concert tour will see her performing across Canada, during the first leg, followed by dates in Brazil, the United States, Japan, and Europe. Performing songs like “Bite Me” and “Love It When You Hate Me” require the endurance of a triathlete. Where does she find the energy?
“I just lose myself in the music and let it take me over,” she says. “I love these songs so much and have so much fun playing them live. Recently, I jumped on stage at The Roxy on Sunset Strip, and played some new songs from the album, along with some older ones.”
She reflects for a moment and says: “Singing is something I can do in my sleep. Performing is like walking and talking.” She laughs. “Putting on a full concert is like cardio!”
One look at her new music videos tells the viewer that Avril takes no prisoners. That said, she is more than simply a spectacle. On the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson in 2007, legendary actor, Ian McKellen, described her as “a punk chanteuse, a post-grunge Valkyrie, with the wounded soul of a poet and the explosive pugnacity of a Canadian’”.
In the midst of the maelstrom of her career, what has kept Avril grounded?
“I won’t do anything without my older brother. He’s been with me from the beginning,” she says. “I won’t tour without him.”
Considering Avril was all of sixteen years of age when she burst onto the music scene, having a protective older brother was definitely a necessity.
“Having family… keeping solid, sane people around me,” Avril continues. “I’m a solid stable person. I take what I do seriously. I’m focused. I stay in the zone. It’s a huge responsibility—you book a tour, you don’t want to let anyone down! You give it all you have. You go out there, try to keep a good balance… eat well, sleep well, stay in good shape, travel the world.”
Living in the glare of the media’s spotlight isn’t easy for anyone, particularly a teenager. Fans and the media form opinions and expectations for performers. How different is the public Avril from the private one?
“I don’t know,” she says, pondering the question. “People only see one side of the performer, so they have my music videos and stage persona to go off of. I’m actually, sometimes really shy and soft spoken… introverted, chill. With my music… that brings out the fiery side of me. When people meet me, they say: ‘You’re so sweet!’ They think I’m the person they see in the videos!”
Avril is quick to express gratitude for her life and career.
“I make music,” she says. “I feel really, really grateful… very blessed, to still be making music. It’s because of my fan base, they are awesome and passionate.”
Avril’s Love Sux tour kicked off on Saturday, April 30, at Casino Rama Resort in Orillia, Ontario. She says she looks forward to connecting with family and friends from high school along the way.
As for the Colosseum at Caesars Windsor, all systems are GO, and the venue considers its shows in May to be its grand re-opening.
“We will be at full capacity, masks are now personal choice, not mandated,” says Tim Trombley Director of Entertainment at Caesars Windsor.
It is hard to believe that it has been nearly twenty-six months since the last show at the Colosseum. Except for REO Speedwagon, who appeared in December 2021, the Colosseum has put the safety of its patrons first and abided by all restrictions imposed by the Ontario government.
“We are very excited about our grand re-opening,” Tim continues. “We think of it as ‘Entertainment 2.0.’ And I think the line-up we have in place has something for everyone: pop and rock with Avril Lavigne, the Black Crowes, and Shinedown. For country music lovers, we have Brad Paisley coming. For comedy fans we have Chelsea Handler, and Steve Martin and Martin Short at the end of May. Paul Anka appears in June. There are many others. Coming back after two years, we wanted to have a very strong and diverse line-up.”
Tim notes that between 70 and 75 percent of the 2022 calendar year is booked. Comedian Bill Burr will perform in October. The Colosseum is confirming shows into November and December.
“We have some great holiday shows that are yet to be announced,” Tim says, “all ages, family friendly.”
To learn more about Avril Lavigne, her music and tour, check out avrillavigne.com. For ticket information about her show in Windsor on May 12 and to learn more about other shows at the Colosseum, visit caesars.com.