It's nice to see a teen idol who doesn't lip-synch. Ashlee Simpson embarrassed herself with a lip-synch mishap on ''Saturday Night Live" last week, but don't expect Avril Lavigne to fall into that trap.
''I've never lip-synched once," Lavigne recently told billboard.com.
Lavigne doesn't have to fake it. She has honest talent that has paid dividends. She came out of tiny Napanee, Ontario, two years ago to become a Grammy darling and sell 14 million copies of her debut album, ''Let Go." Her followup, ''Under My Skin," has sold 5 million, but is still reeling off hit singles.
Still only 20 years old, Lavigne also continues to improve as a live act. Her show last night before nearly 15,000 fans at the FleetCenter was a quantum leap from her Tsongas Arena date in Lowell last year. She commanded the stage much better, driving her band with a punkette vigor, and pausing for solo tunes on acoustic guitar and piano that suggested a young Sarah McLachlan in the making.
Like McLachlan, and fellow Canadian Alanis Morissette, Lavigne sings from the heart. She was on pitch all night at the FleetCenter, where she and her band came out rocking like the Ramones on ''He Wasn't," before mixing up genres from skater-punk (her hit, ''Sk8er Boi") and buoyant pop-rock, to increasingly adult-themed music such as ''Don't Tell Me," about advising a potential boyfriend to chill out. ''Did you think I was gonna give it up to you? . . . Don't try to tell me what to do," she sang with an Alanis snarl.
Lavigne is growing by the day -- and her increased maturity was apparent at the Fleet, where many parents and their children took in the show together. The youths dug the dance-crazed ''Freak Out" (with Lavigne exhorting, ''Just freak out! Let it go!") and the teen-affirming ''Anything But Ordinary," while many parents were no doubt impressed with the superb, McLachlan-like ballad that closed the show, ''Slipped Away," about the death of her grandfather. Lavigne had cried in the studio when she recorded it for her last album. She didn't cry at the Fleet, but some listeners surely did.
Lavigne also kept her tradition alive of doing some solid cover tunes. At the Tsongas she did Bob Dylan's ''Knockin' on Heaven's Door." Last night it was ''Song 2" by Brit-rockers Blur. It also gave her a chance to play drums, prompting the question, ''Is there anything she can't do?" Expect continued, career-building confidence from her.
Opening act Butch Walker (who produced Lavigne's hit, ''Don't Tell Me," and also produced music for the Donnas and Simple Plan) was a passably pleasant pop presence, with occasional urgency thanks his being pushed by Boston band American Hi-Fi, which backed him. Walker's nice-guy persona won over the crowd, but his songs could use more hooks and a little less bombast.