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Subject: A review of the first stop on Ashlee Simpson's tour.

Written By: JamieMcBain on 02/19/05 at 11:01 am

Ashlee Simpson Lives--Live

02/18/2005 6:45 PM, E! Online
Joal Ryan

The "Stop Ashlee Simpson " online petition may have more 320,000 cosigners, but the object of its disaffection won't play along.

Instead of ceasing all "recording, touring, modeling and performing" as requested, Simpson is hitting the road.

The MTV star's first ever headlining concert tour kicked off Wednesday in Anaheim, California. Opening-night reviews were bad to charitable; attendance, per one report, was spotty.

In short, just another besieged day at the office for the pop-culture punching bag who was embarrassed on Saturday Night Live, and booed at the Orange Bowl .

"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 stay true to yourself," Simpson told the audience at the Grove of Anaheim, according to

Interestingly, the biggest critical hits Simpson took for Wednesday's performance were those suggesting that the younger, raven-haired version of ultra-blonde Jessica Simpson was not being true to herself.

The Los Angeles Times called her bad-girl pose, performed before the likes of her sister and brother-in-law, Nick Lachey , "an act." The Orange County Register called her six costume changes an affront to the rock section in which her debut album, Autobiography, is filed.

"Ashlee, it's like this: There's no crying in baseball, and there are no costume changes in rock 'n' roll," Ben Wener wrote in the Register.

The 20-year-old Simpson did get points, such as they were, for eschewing the Memorex. said only one song, a cover of Blondie's "Cover Me," sounded as if it had been sweetened with a backing vocal track. Wener concurred that Simpson was indeed singing on stage, not that he was paying her a compliment: "No one sounds like that on tape."

It was a tape--the wrong tape--that made Simpson 60 Minutes fodder last October for a botched SNL performance involving, in no particular order, an improperly cued pre-recorded vocal track, an impromptu hoedown, and acid reflux.

The controversy dogged her into January's national championship college football game. During a halftime performance, in which Simpson with great purpose and volume sang live her latest single, "La La," the Orange Bowl crowd jeered.

In the wake of the bad press, Gary Bongiovanni, editor in chief of Pollstar, the concert industry trade magazine, said he was skeptical about the box-office potential of a Simpson tour--"especially when she's become the butt of a number of comedians' jokes."

But anecdotal buzz tells him the tour is actually "doing okay," Bongiovanni said. (Hard data won't be available for a few weeks.)

In the Register, Wener said Wednesday's show boasted ample walking-around room in the tier section. On the other hand, tickets for Friday's show at the Universal Ampitheater, Simpson's lone Los Angeles date, were impossible to come by through Ticketmaster.

To Bongiovanni, the SNL scandal is a non-issue for Simpson's core fans, girls and teens who have followed her from 7th Heaven to her own MTV reality series.

"Her audience is not as concerned about lip-synching," Bongiovanni said. "It would be a huge scandal if it were Bruce Springsteen ."

Simpson's 37-date tour concludes Apr. 20 in Grand Prairie, Texas.

Unless, of course, she bows to petitioners wishes before then.

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