taken from: Review Chicago
No Doubt stands and delivers: Part I (Milwaukee)
July 6, 2009
Charlotte Mutesha | Review Chicago
“I want my ears to drip blood!” Gwen Stefani said to me last Thursday, after doing ten perfect pushups. So myself and about 23,000 other women screamed back at her, “I’M JUST A GIRL!” The Marcus Ampitheatre at the Summerfest grounds shook.
We clearly outnumbered the men in the crowd, probably by 20 to 1. When Gwen had told the Wisconsin boys to shout, “I’m just a girl,” they tried, but it was weak. Gwen paused and said, “That was a good try, but that was shit!” Like a mighty chorus, we sang the bridge and the rocking out continued.
The show opens with the epic intro music to Battlestar Galactica. A giant white sheet drops to the floor and four huge silhouettes of Tony, Gwen, Tom Adrian walk up, growing larger with each step. Gwen’s silhouette does a cute little dance, and the four stand together in all their reunited glory. She yells, the curtain drops, and the horn-laden introduction to “Spiderwebs” blares into your soul:
After a five-year hiatus, No Doubt has hit the road for a highly anticipated national tour. Gwen (vocals), Tom Dumont (guitar), Tony Kanal (bass), and Adrian Young (drums) are back with their touring partners and backup vocalists Steven Bradley (keys and trumpet) and Gabrial McNair (keys and trombone).
The iconic, Grammy-winning, two-decade-spanning band clearly still has “it,” giving the fans their classic, epically energetic live performance. Gwen, who is 39 and the mother of two young children (the youngest is 10 months), looks better than ever with her six-pack abs and the incredible ability to dance, run and jump around nonstop for two hours.
I want to be Gwen Stefani when I grow up. She’s my style muse, fashion twin, and favorite entrepreneur with her clothing labels and fragrances. As a young girl listening to her lyrics, she sang the words right out of my diary. She’s married to a hot guy, has two beautiful babies, and a rockin’ body to die for.
It’s hard for me to believe that No Doubt’s last full-length original album, Rock Steady, was released EIGHT years ago in 2001. I was in high school and didn’t even have my driver’s license at the time. Furthermore, I was a wee lass when Tragic Kingdom and Return of Saturn came into my regular rotation of CDs.
What truly astonishes me, though, is the impact that No Doubt’s music has had on my life, and the fact that it’s still so relevant and inspiring all these years later.
The proof of their timeless relevancy is in their dedicated fan base. It may have been nearly nine years since their last record, but No Doubt is packing arenas and ampitheatres to the brim–and the fans are eating it up.
The band gives the crowd what they want: wild, energetic dancing; genuine interaction with the audience; bright, colorful stage set design; creative and mesmerizing background video; funky, exciting costume changes. Gwen periodically pulls people onstage with her to take pictures and wish them happy birthday.
And for the fans (YOU know the kind) that prefer the Tragic Kingdom sound to the Rock Steady vibe, a lot of the ska-influenced songs from the earlier days make the setlist. On July 2 at their Milwaukee Summerfest stop, seven songs were from Tragic Kingdom, four songs were from Return of Saturn, and Rock Steady tracks appeared five times.
No Doubt does not currently have a new record to promote, but who wouldn’t love a greatest hits setlist with all the favorites that haven’t been performed in years? Gwen explained that this tour was being used as a springboard to inspire new music to be written.
“Honestly, it’s procrastination,” she told Billboard. “My plan was to get pregnant and write a record, but instead of writing, I just ate all the time…Writing is always really hard for me — I hate it and hate it and then I do it, and I’m happy it’s done. I was blocked and I needed to get inspired, and I thought playing live would get the creative juices flowing again.” I feel ya, homegirl. In order to write music, she plays music. For me, when I need the inspiration to write, I read books.
Despite the lack of a record, the band did, however, perform their two cover songs, “It’s My Life” (originally by Talk Talk) and their latest recording, “Stand and Deliver,” by Adam and the Ants.
The thing I love about No Doubt is the fact that they don’t have a SINGLE BAD SONG. They could literally play any song from any record, and it would still be dance party central singalong time, and the crowd would still know every word.
I saw Gwen on her solo Sweet Escape tour two summers ago, which was of course, energetic and entertaining, but to see No Doubt for the first time was a fantastic experience, hearing the songs I listened to as a teenager.
Complete Setlist from July 2 in Milwaukee:
Underneath it All
Excuse Me, Mr.
End it on This
Simple Kind of Life
It’s My Life
Just a Girl
Stand and Deliver
The Marcus Ampitheatre is a great venue for a live show—there’s really not a bad seat in the house. Even if you’re up on the lawn, the jumbotrons abound, the graphics screen behind the band is gigantic, and the sound is flawless.
I also will be attending the No Doubt concert on Saturday, July 11 at the First Midwest Bank Ampitheatre in Tinley Park, IL for a second dosage–and will be back with a Part II of my No Doubt summer tour review series, comparing and contrasting the two experiences.
Tickets are still available (some as inexpensive as $15!), so if you’re a longtime fan, I strongly suggest attending this one.
In my book, No Doubt isn’t the Artist of the Week or the Artist of the Month–they are the artist of my LIFE.