Tuesday, November 27, 2012

No Doubt @ The Gibson Amphitheatre, Universal City Walk. 11/24/12.

Hella Good

No Doubt. The unofficial ambassadors of Southern California are back. I caught them on their "reunion" tour in 2009 and it was easily one of the best concert experiences I've ever had. After some satanic conjuring and Matrix style hacking (F5, F5) of the Live Nation site, we got our tickets and were headed to No Doubt's first show in years at the always awesome Univer...er, Gibson Amphitheatre.

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.

Night one of No Doubt's residency at the Gibson was sold out. The opening band we caught, 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.

That's the thing, No Doubt have become likes icons to a lot of their fans but they're really just a kick ass rock band. Tony and Adrian are one of the sickest rhythm sections around. Watching Tony leap onto Adrian's drum riser, and Adrian zone out during "Just A Girl," when he's in the pocket and simultaneously beating his snare to hell. Like I said, Gwen's voice was better than ever, and her energy level was insane. She's 43 and has two kids and danced jumped and sang for close to 2 hours while still looking gorgeous. I'm half her age and was tired walking from the car to the venue.

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.


  1. I remember No Doubt. I didn't realise how much they meant to some people though.

  2. Very jealous, I didn't know they were still together!

  3. I'm a massive fan of No Doubt's music so I find it pretty cool that you got to go and see them, especially when they mean so much to people from San Francisco, their story is an inspirational one even. I like you was a little disappointed by No Doubt's newest record but I reckon as time goes on I'll warm to it a bit, It's My Life from the older days is just incredible!

  4. ... This just sounds so... I wish I were there. And I'm not a South Californian, I just think their music is, well, everything you said it is.

  5. i am so jealous. i would totally love checking these guys out live

  6. Never knew they were still as one, you always find the ones that are so fun, nothing ever comes here, too cold I guess haha

  7. Oh my Gwen! you are so lovely! I should have been in this gig! darn! My friends were there and they took some real nice photos of the gig. http://moment.me/n/302778.