Gwen Stefani of No Doubt owns the massive stage at Fiddler’s Green on Wednesday. Photos by Soren McCarty.
Gwen Stefani is a living statue of anatomical perfection.
The realistically-proportioned Barbie seems impervious to aging, stress and the fleeting changes in popular music, an icon of enviable style and good manners. Sure, her run as mega-pop star over the last five years has been fun to watch, but nothing compares to seeing Cali home girl go legit with No Doubt once again and take ownership of her skanking roots. This was my seventh or eighth time seeing the band, and while the majority of the crowd seemed unaware of ND’s blue beat-heavy past, we all managed to dance in variations of rude girl unison anyway.
With all the necessary drama this reemergence required, the Wednesday night show at Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre opened with massive silhouettes of each member and their trademark Mohawks, suspenders and big boots projected on a white curtain covering the stage. The looming outlines sent shivers of nostalgia through my finger tips as the fabric dropped and Adrian Young, Tony Kanal, Tom Dumont and the matriarchal Gwen Stefani stood smiling in glittery all-white versions of their original attire. It felt like a revealing of a vintage dream version of No Doubt from the future.
“Spider Webs” started the show, Stefani skulking the stage with her infamous shoulder-led prowl, knee-high Doc Martens stomping gracefully across the space-age platform. “Hella Good” and “Underneath It All” followed, pops of color appearing on the monochromatic set in the form of new video images and Stefani’s now noticeable neon green bra straps.
Shining a light on their two-tone beginnings, No Doubt played a dub-heavy, down-tempo version of “Excuse Me Mr.,” and later covered the Skatalites’ classic “Guns of Navarone,” melting away a little of their deceivingly poppy exterior. Now sporting a black and silver romper and black tights, Gwen led the crowd through “New” and “Hella Good,” her hip shakes speaking to the sold-out crowd with sequined amplification.
“Don’t Speak” began to wind down the set, Gwen wrinkling and arching her brow and pouting her perfect red lips as she moped gracefully through the break-up anthem. Closing with “Just a Girl,” old antics again resurfaced as the frontwoman did her trademark push-ups with a beaming smile. The amphitheater boomed the chorus in a massive sing-along and the female-dominated presence echoed off the tall concrete walls.
The encore featured Gwen in full rude boy get-up, bleached bondage pants, suspenders and a glittery black polo, ready to serenade us with the ambient “Rock Steady.” A cover of Adam and the Ants’ “Stand and Deliver” found each band member at a floor tom brought out to the stage, drummer Young coming down from his large kit to join in on a marching snare, wearing nothing but a tutu. Antsy with fear that I wouldn’t get to hear my favorite song, No Doubt ended with “Sunday Morning,” my concert life feeling near complete as the band bowed graciously and said their goodbyes.
Seeing Gwen Stefani close up felt unreal, and not just because of her colossal star status. Once upon a high school time, I had bleached hair and wore custom-embellished bras and tank tops with Dickies and Doc Martens too. While skanking in public might be a Vice Magazine-sanctioned offense, I couldn’t care less. No Doubt made me feel hella good, dude.
Bree Davies plays bass in Night of Joy, writes about her obsessions with Iggy Pop and Lil’ Wayne in her blog and repeatedly fakes her own death at Breedavies.com. She is also a self-proclaimed Twitter addict.
Soren McCarty is a Denver freelance photographer and regular contributor to Reverb.