Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Live: No Doubt @ Shoreline

Late Pass:I attended the No Doubt concert Saturday night at Shoreline Ampitheater. Sans notebook. Here's why:

There was a big flap with my review tickets. I was handed off to the marketing director, who was understandably busy, but never the less apologetic for the mistake.

I didn't get my tickets until about half an hour before No Doubt was set to perform. It was a nice reminder of just how unglamorous this job can be, and how it can happen quite quickly.

So back to my review.

No Doubt started its set by projecting 50-foot tall silhouettes onto a giant white sheet, that sort of ghostly effect that Prince used during his Super Bowl Performance a couple years ago. It looked pretty cool up close, especially with each member walking towards the sheet, their image growing larger with each step as they approached.

Once the sheet was pulled down, the stage revealed an all white set-up with a large, raised spider-looking platform, with a riser drummer Adrian Young and narrow extension ramps.

They opened with "Spider Webs," an instant crowd-pleaser, and sounded studio-tight. Their entire set equaled the sound quality of their albums, impressive given they've been on hiatus for more than six years and lead singer Gwen Stefani was steeped in a successful solo career during that break.

The set list:

Hella Good
Underneath It All
Excuse Me Mr.
End It On This
Simple Kind of Life
Guns of Navarone
Hey Baby
Different People
Don't Speak
It's My Life
Just A Girl


Rock Steady
Stand and Deliver
Sunday Morning

Most of the songs had a sonic sheen to them that was almost mechanical. This was the final stop before heading home to So-Cal for the tour's closing dates, so the band could have been winding it down after a long tour.

While the energy was fluid and the songs were lemon-fresh, there was a choreographed feel to the steps and moves that came off a little stale. Gwen is a great performer, charming and spirited, a punk-ska-cheerleader if there ever was one. But her moves left a little bit to be desired. Her punk-rock karate kicks looked like recycled fare. And when she addressed the crowd with a breathless echo, you could sort of tell the scripted bits.

But who cares when the band looks as hot and sounds as tight as they did. Young stripped to his skivvies and some thigh-high, whit and black stripe-printed panty hose. Guitarist Tom Dumont's faux hawk was as sharp as his licks, and bassist/music director Tony Kanal orchestrated the fury.

And of course, there was Gwen, looking fly and making the guys and girls fall in love with her all over again. Hopefully, this tour leads to some new material from the band, but if this is it, then what we have is one of Cali's best modern rock bands blowing kisses to the fans.

Who need a notebook when you have the memories.

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