ANAHEIM, California — Seconds after Ashlee Simpson took the stage for the first night of her first tour on Wednesday night, one of her guitarists’ straps ripped mid-twirl and his six-string shot across the stage.
Apparently this girl just can’t get a break.
However, as she’s done with her much larger performance snafus of the past (see “Ashlee Simpson Shrugs Off Orange Bowl Booing” and “Ashlee Simpson’s ‘SNL’ Excuse Bolstered By Rehearsal Tape” ), Ashlee soldiered on through her opening number, “Autobiography” (minus a guitarist), and never looked back.
In black slacks and a white tuxedo jacket (one of six outfits she would wear throughout her hour-long show), Simpson paced the stage, singing with a vengeance while the sold-out Grove of Anaheim audience bopped along.
Segueing into “Nothing New” with the help of her five-piece band, complete with a keyboardist/backing vocalist (“My best friend Lucy,” as she would introduce her later), Ashlee bounced around like a pinball, an energy level she would maintain for most of the show.
“This song is about self-appreciation,” Simpson said as she took a breather before “Love Me for Me.” “I’ve gone through a lot lately and I learned that you make your mistakes and people like you guys will always love you if you stray true to yourself.”
The crowd roared in support, which seemed to feed Ashlee’s confidence, as her singing got more aggressive with each song.
After “Love for Me,” Ashlee kept on the same theme, delivering her single “Shadow” while the video aired out of sync on the big screen behind her. Although distracting at times, the screens proved to be a popular attraction earlier as they featured a collection of Ashlee’s personal photos. (Who knew she once looked like big sister Jessica?)
|Ashlee Simpson Autobiography Tour Opening Night|
Next, Simpson (now in a fedora and vest) treated fans to a track from the European version of Autobiography called “Harder Everyday,” which was written with Goldfinger’s John Feldmann and had a bit of a punk edge. “Two a.m. and I’m pacing around the floor,” she sang as she acted out the lyric.
“Undiscovered” followed, bringing the singer to a more emotional place. “I had my heart broken so long ago, but I still feel emotional when I sing that one,” she said.
Ashlee then embarked on a short intimate set that featured parts of “Giving It All Away,” “Love Makes the World Go Round” and an unreleased track called “Hollywood,” a simple ballad about moving from Texas to Los Angeles.
After leaving for another costume change, Simpson returned in a white denim vest, ready to rock out again for “Surrender,” during which she added a few lines from Hole’s “Celebrity Skin.”
She more than made up for the tease of the cover by playing a medley of “some of the songs that influenced me,” which included the Pretenders’ “Brass in Pocket,” Blondie’s “Call Me” (which was the one and only tune of the night that sounded like it had a backing track behind it) and Madonna’s “Burning Up.”
For the finale, Ashlee donned a different fedora, which she tossed off early into “La La.” Perhaps because it was the song that got her booed at the Orange Bowl or maybe it’s just a hard one to sing, but Simpson seemed to struggle through it a bit, relying on the audience for singing support for the first time of the night.
The encore began with a video of what was probably the only dance from 2004 more memorable than Ashlee’s “Saturday Night Live” jig: Napoleon Dynamite’s auditorium show (from last year’s movie “Napoleon Dynamite”). With the crowd still laughing up a storm, Simpson returned in a white dress for a version of “Pieces of Me” that was easily the crowd favorite and, perhaps more notably, without catastrophe. Finally.
For more sights and stories from concerts around the country, check out MTV News Tour Reports .