“Your words walk right through my ears
Presuming I like what I hear…”
Spiderwebs – No Doubt
Confession: I’m not a huge fan of Gwen Stefani solo.
I love Gwen as an artist. I love many of her fashion designs. I think she has incredible stage presence, a genuine and kind attitude towards her fanbase and a zest for performing. But with a few exceptions, I have just never been able to get into her solo music catalogue with the enthusiasm I held for No Doubt at their prime. Naturally, I was thrilled by news of a No Doubt reunion; not only could I hope for more of the output I loved, but I could finally see No Doubt live.
Ladies and gentlemen, No Doubt delivers a show worth the costs, without a doubt. Yeah, I went there. You know you would have, too.
But before diving into No Doubt’s set, let me take a few minutes to chat about tour openers Paramore, a pairing that I feel was incredibly effective and well-chosen for No Doubt. Hayley Williams, like Gwen Stefani, is a very gracious lead singer who loves crowd interaction and cannot stay still for long on stage. Delivering a set with classic live staples and a few new songs as a tease from their forthcoming third album, Hayley belted and wailed her way through the songs, enthusiastically encouraging the large cluster of Paramore die-hards in the floor seats to be as infectiously cheery as she was. If you blinked at the wrong time, you sadly would have missed their bassist Jeremy flip over their guitarist Taylor mid-song (photographic evidence located at this awesome Blog.To article on the show). My only gripe with their performance was Hayley sounded a little muddy; I blame the ACC’s shoddy sound equipment. I hate that venue for concerts, by the way; I’ve experienced very few shows that sound as they should from any location in seating.
The crowd successfully warmed up, No Doubt burst onto the stage and went straight into classic hit Spiderwebs, effectively working the fans into a frothing frenzy of frenetic energy. Dressed in white, they quickly assumed their positions on their space-age spider-esque platform and went to town, particularly Gwen. Moving through a greatest hits setlist that delivered precisely what fans were seeking after a long hiatus, No Doubt proved that they had lost absolutely nothing in their time apart.
Visuals for the show were predominantly selected from old footage of the band, lending a nostalgic “we’re back – remember this?” feel that added to the loving vibe. The show, above all, seemed to be a celebration of the past as the band looks forward to a future together, a sweet sentiment that speaks to the bond that has endured in spite of everything. One particular high note was the James Bond-esque visuals and sound to Ex-Girlfriend, a personal favourite of mine; I was almost waiting for Shirley Manson (formerly of Garbage, now trapped in label red-tape limbo with her solo debut) to burst out and duet The World Is Not Enough with Gwen. Now THAT would have been worth the ticket price all by itself!
Another highlight: Adrian Young, no question. Any drummer who dons a codpiece, who drops his pants and smacks his ass for the crowd and then comes out for an encore in a pink tutu and drums in the audience deserves my love for sheer entertainment factor. He definitely won the most cheers aside from Stefani. Stefani, never outdone, invited one fan on stage with a No Doubt tattoo and snapped a photo with him on stage, invited another holding a sign with lyrics for older track Let’s Get Back up for her to sing the song on demand (only to give up as she declared, “You got these from the internet! They’re the wrong words!”) and spotlighted a group of girls upfront with numerous signs as being “the reason I came tonight”. Talk about some Hella Good love for the people who’ve made you.
Setlist highlights for me included: Spiderwebs, Ex-Girlfriend, Happy Now/End It On This, Running, Don’t Speak, Stand and Deliver and Sunday Morning, although the entire show was just solid throughout. If I HAD to bitch, I’d say that hearing The Climb would have been INCREDIBLE.
Welcome back, No Doubt. Your fanbase missed you.
SETLIST – Paramore 6/16/09
For A Pessimist, I’m Pretty Optimistic
Ignorance *new track, LOVE it*
When It Rains
Where The Lines Overlap *new track, decent*
That’s What You Get
Let The Flames Begin
SETLIST – No Doubt 6/16/09
Underneath It All
Excuse Me Mister
Happy Now/End It On This
Let’s Get Back *partial*
Simple Kind of Life
Guns of Navarone
It’s My Life
Just A Girl
Stand and Deliver