You have to understand how big of a deal No Doubt is for us Southern California folk. They were some goofy ska kids who grew up outside of Disney Land and turned into one of biggest bands in the country. Their song "Don't Speak" was the most played song on American radio in 1996...and it wasn't even an official single! They have the quintessential drop dead gorgeous frontwoman who puts movie stars to shame. Their music, like SoCal itself, is an eclectic hodgepodge of just about everything, perfect for skating, moshing, dancing, surfing, smoking or sitting in traffic. The band is just rad as hell...and they're like us! Well, onto the show.
Group Love, was cool but really, everyone was waiting for the main course you know? The second No Doubt took the stage the 6,000+ capacity crowd went nuts. The loud (and I mean LOUD) screams of excitement turned to silly smiles and wide eyed amazement once the band began playing "Push and Shove." Now I'm not a big fan of their new record. It sounds more like a pop/polished Gwen Stefani solo album than a solid band effort; and it initially left a bad taste in my mouth. Then I heard the new songs live. Holy balls they sounded great. Hidden under the lame studio trickery of the new album, there are some sweet ass songs there. "Settle Down," "One More Summer," "Sparkle," and the title track have been stuck in my head since I left the venue.
Aside from being a ridiculously tight live band, capable of turning previous roadkill tracks into a feast for the ears, No Doubt also serve up some world class visuals onstage. While not as dazzling as the set from their last tour, the band still used the same massive display screen that projected film footage, photos and other crazy/hypnotic videos behind them as they rocked out onstage. The screen also doubled as a giant TV monitor for the audience, allowing us to see different members at different times as giant IMAX figures. Oh yeah, and everyone in the band has officially stopped aging. They're all in their 40's now but you wouldn't know it if wikipedia didn't tell you. Gwen is more beautiful than ever. Really. I was watching some of their old music videos on Youtube this weekend and 90's ska/punk Gwen was cute and all, but momma/fashion model Gwen takes the cake, no contest. Her voice has actually gotten stronger over the years as well.
They ended the night with "Spiderwebs" and all was right with the world. Sure I wish they played a few different songs here and there ("Running" > "Simple Kind of Life") but I'd be content watching them play the phone book. No Doubt are back. Southern California is now brighter for it.