taken from: The Star
Jun 17, 2009 01:38 AM
POP & JAZZ CRITIC
If that 90-minute workout No Doubt’s touring across North America doesn’t kick-start Gwen Stefani’s writer’s block, I don’t know what will.
The California ska-pop group is back on the road for the first time in five years, seeking inspiration for the new album that didn’t come together before the tour.
And it’s a shame the quartet doesn’t have any material newer than 2001’s Rock Steady, because it is an arresting, relevant outfit worthy of more than a 45-city oldies tour.
Frontwoman Stefani has said the lyrics don’t come easy now with the distractions of her family and solo endeavours. Her mates – bassist (and ex-boyfriend) Tony Kanal, guitarist Tom Dumont and drummer Adrian Young – are almost all parents as well and hovering on either side of 40.
It’s hard to imagine her not being able to match mentally what she has accomplished physically. The impossibly cut abs and non-stop jumping, skipping and skanking are evidence of the mother-of-toddler-sons’ gruelling workouts. She never sounded winded and I couldn’t catch her out with any backing vocals.
She dropped to the floor for 10 non-girly push-ups near the end of the show, reiterating what we already knew: the perfume-shilling fashionista – who came out wearing a sheer belly-baring top with baggy pants and knee high boots – can still hang with the fellas.
And as good as the band was – bolstered by keyboardists/horn players Gabriel McNair and Stephen Bradley – eking out strong, stirring rhythms and melodies, you couldn’t take your eyes off the luminous Stefani who was missed during two quick costume changes.
Not that the others didn’t give it a shot: Young baring and slapping his bum after the opening tune and returning for the encore in a pink tutu; Kanal and Dumont delivering blistering solos and athletic dance moves.
With Stefani doing all the talking and bringing fans on stage to dance and take pictures, the show had a loose, playful feel. And she didn’t perform any of her solo material, which seems now so insipid compared to No Doubt’s muscular catalogue.
On their feet for the entire show, the capacity crowd inside the Air Canada Centre urged the band on, singing along to songs such as, “Hey Baby,” “Just a Girl,” and “Underneath It All.”
Let’s hope they head straight to the studio when the tour wraps up in August.
Tickets are still available for the band’s June 30 London, Ont. show.