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Pop punk star back on tour as she battles Lyme disease in recent years; she'll play Seattle on Sept. 14 and then Keller Auditorium the next night to start tour

COURTESY PHOTO: DAVID NEEDLEMAN - Avril Lavigne performs at Keller Auditorium, Sunday, Sept. 15.It's been five years since Avril Lavigne went on tour, a break basically forced on her as she battled Lyme disease.

The Pacific Northwest will be front-and-center in Lavigne's world in September, as her "Head Above Water" tour begins in Seattle on Sept. 14 and then stops at Keller Auditorium on Sept. 15.

Lavigne pronounces herself feeling good and ready to go. Proceeds from each ticket sold will be donated to The Avril Lavigne Foundation, which supports people with Lyme disease, serious illness or disabilities. It's a fairly unusual disease to incur, as it's a bacterial infection brought on by a tick bite.

"I'm at a place where I'm working and have my life and I'm really grateful for that," Lavigne told the Tribune as she prepared for the tour. "We just shot a video for (single) 'I Fell In Love With The Devil,' and it was 14-hour days, and now I'm going on tour. I'm able to work, because the job is so intense with the whole travel schedule.

"I'm staying healthy and balanced like anybody else my age would ... I'm just really grateful to have a life, it was really hard for a few years, where I was constantly laying there. I'm loving music more and more."

The Ontario, Canada, native brought us "Complicated" and "Sk8er Boi" as the pop punk teenage star exploded on the scene in the early 2000s. Her 2002 debut album, "Let Go," rocketed her into pop fame, followed by "Under My Skin" (2004) and "The Best Damn Thing" (2007), which included the hit "Girlfriend."

Two other albums followed before her sickness, and then she released "Head Above Water" in February.

She's now 34, and kind of feeling her age.

"Once you're in your 30s, you don't party as hard; now I drink two glasses of wine and don't pull an all-nighter like I used to," she said, laughing.

"I thought it was me, and then I learn everyone around me feels (bad) after two drinks. Welcome to 30. ... But I feel like a normal person, I feel better when I work out and I'm healthy and I get good night sleeps."

The single "I Fell In Love With The Devil" describes a person who, unfortunately, became involved with the wrong person in a toxic relationship. Lavigne has been in public relationships with Brody Jenner (son of Bruce Jenner, who's now Caitlyn Jenner) and Chad Kroeger, frontman for Nickelback.

But she conceded that it's a song not about them.

"I had one not so public, and I learned a lot," she said. "I have to be careful about certain people coming into my life. I was dating someone and it was a toxic experience, but I turned a song into empowerment, which is a constant theme."

She received some criticism, including from evangelicals, for the lyrics and music video of "I Fell In Love With The Devil" for its dark look and perceived slam on Christianity. She also invoked God in the first single "Head Above Water," a song inspired by her Lyme disease.

Lavigne reflected on her career, and she loves talking about the early "Sk8er Boi" and "Complicated" days. She enjoys singing the songs even now.

"In band rehearsals, I actually feel really good singing my own songs," she said. "It's reminding me of who I am and where I came from. It gives me a lot of life.

"I've toured every album, played these songs over and over for years. The break I just took was a break, but when I sing songs again, it's like no time had gone by."

Looking at her albums and public persona, it's obvious that Lavigne has evolved in style.

"I've had to evolve, but it's still very much me, my spirit and attitude," she said. "With the pop rock thing, I can't keep making the same albums. It's now more about vocal performance and going back to roots before the first album. I got my start in church and at country fairs. ... I let my voice go to other places. I really let the lyrics shine through. Less is more with the production."

She missed music while dealing with her sickness.

"I realized how much I loved music when I started working on it again," Lavigne said. "This gives me life and makes me feel so good."

Her tour "will be a magical experience. When you bring songs live, it's like a totally different experience. It's been so long, we're so excited, putting together the show, and it's going to be a mix of this album and it's important to bring back older songs. It's going to be a really cool journey on stage."

For tickets to Avril Lavigne's Sept. 15 concert at Keller Auditorium, see www.portland5.com.


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