When people hear the name Avril Lavigne, their first thought usually relates to one of the star’s original hits, “Sk8er Boi.” Whether it triggers memories of your middle school years or makes you feel unstoppable, it is somewhat of an anthem recognized by millions of people across the globe.
Lavigne has come a long way since her debut album, Let Go, full of punk-pop tunes with catchy melodies and sassy lyrics, released when she was just 17 years old. In 2015, Lavigne announced to the world that she was diagnosed with Lyme disease. And now, five years since she last performed on stage in front of her fans, Lavigne is closing out her sixth tour, featuring songs from her most recent album, Head Above Water.
Before she concludes the 15-show tour later this month, Lavigne will stop at MGM National Harbor on Wednesday, Oct. 9. Here, she looks back at her 17 years of stardom, return to the stage and the message she hopes her fans embrace with Head Above Water.
Your tour just began a few weeks ago. What were you most anxious about prior to stepping on stage for the first time in five years?
You know what’s funny, I thought I was going to be nervous and I wasn’t. It was so weird to me, I was so calm and chill. It showed me that this is what I’m supposed to be doing, it’s what I was born to do. When I was at a point where I was like, “I don’t know if I’ll work again,” all these songs just started coming to me without even trying. Stepping on stage was a similar feeling.
The shows have been so amazing and I’ve been really enjoying them. It’s a theater tour, which I’ve never done before but I had a good vibe going into it. It’s all packed, everyone’s really close and I feel very close and connected to everyone. I feel them and I can see them and it’s been, I think, one of my favorite tours so far.
Looking at this tour compared to your past five, and the first from when you were initially starting out, what are the most notable differences for you?
Well, I have found that every tour, my shows got better every time. And because I got more experience, I started enjoying each tour more and more. You learn what it’s like to be up there and how to be in front of a crowd and how to speak to them and how to build a set list that has a good flow. I remember when I was younger, I didn’t talk on stage because I was so young and didn’t know what I was doing. And now, with the last couple of tours I’ve really come into myself.
Your new album is a lot more ballad-based compared to your others. Where did that passion come from?
It’s a departure for me and it’s just where I was at. I was in a mellow place, I was in a somber place and I was going through some stuff. And I just made this raw record with this tone. But it’s cool because it weighs into a triumphant feel and that is important to me. There is a theme of empowerment throughout the entire record so people can pull strength from it.
Why did you choose Head Above Water to be the album title?
It’s the first song I wrote and it’s my story, the story of what I just went through. We had to go with that because it is so reflective of where I was at that time. I made a beautiful video for that, which was filmed by a movie director. The same director filmed “I Fell in Love with the Devil,” too. So I took the footage from both of those and I have them in the production for this tour, so it’s a water and fire theme. You see a lot of those visuals behind me while I perform at the opening and closing of the show, and in the middle it’s a lot of my hits from the past.
How do you feel about the fact that you’ve been able to consistently remain popular with your fans for over two decades?
I mean it’s just crazy. I go on stage and everyone’s screaming every song from the top of their lungs and I’m like, this is amazing. I feel like I can have longevity because my songs really come from me. I’m writing them and I’m singing them and they’re so real and authentic. I think the people that connect with me are really connecting with my songs and it’s on this deep, passionate level that isn’t surface. It touches them at a certain point in their life.
What can fans expect from your performance at MGM National Harbor?
Definitely songs off the new album and a good time, where I’ll be enjoying myself up on stage. It’s a fun show and you’ll lose yourself in the music.
Of those songs from the last 17 years, what’s your favorite song to perform?
I like performing “I’m With You” and “My Happy Ending“ and “Sk8er Boi” is definitely the most fun.
To purchase tickets to tomorrow’s show, click here. // MGM National Harbor: 101 MGM National Ave., Oxon Hill, Maryland; $50-$275