Finding dignity

Hilary Duff, Bank of America Pavilion, August 30, 2007
By ELLEE DEAN  |  September 4, 2007
POST-DISNEY HILARY: Lizzie McGuire, meet Madonna.

Slideshow: Hilary Duff at Bank of America Pavilion, August 30, 2007
Clutching her rhinestone-studded mic, Hilary Duff sounds like Minnie Mouse when she talks. Of her fans — bespectacled little girls with glow sticks at Bank of America Pavilion — Duff exclaims, “It’s very, like, empowering!” (She also admits, “I lose my words up here.”) Such is the empty-sugar-packet archetype of pop perfection. Back-up dancers in string bikinis and unzipped Daisy Duke body suits might be descending the stairs behind her, but Duff doesn’t lose her dignified beat — especially not during Dignity’s chiding, electro-pop title track. “Where’s your, where’s your, where’s your dignity?” she chants, as tabloid covers flash on the screen behind her. Her dancers don oversized designer purses and they and Duff gyrate their hips. “I think you lost it in the Hollywood hills,” she coos, for a sexy-lite second, looking like a miniature Brigitte Bardot, though with too much highlighter on her Shape-magazine-cover thighs.

However sexy she might look in hoop earrings and a pair of low-cut gold overalls, Duff acts the part of a punctiliously packaged pop star/teen role model. In front of an image of blue sky, she tells us that “Wake Up” is a song about “boys” and “girls” all over the world turning their backs on negativity. And her tabloid-trash routine reams wayward-rehab stars like Lindsay Lohan more than Pink’s “Stupid Girls.” But at the end of the set, when she stands atop the stage’s staircase and sighs — utterly defeated, it seems, by her own career — something strange happens. She performs two encores. After the first, the lights come on and she politely introduces her band. Cue the mom-and-daughter glow-stick exodus. But then the Pavilion grows dark again, and the band start to play in front of a fiery-red screen. Duff’s shadow writhes in front of the flame to the opening beat of her TRL-featured single, “Stranger.” Suddenly, she’s Lizzie McGuire cum Madonna — with purring vocals, but she doesn’t claw at the floor just yet. It’s the confusing former-Disney-teenage-female-pop-star battlefield, as in “Love Is a Battlefield” — and, yes, Duff does okay with Pat Benatar’s fist pumper too.

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