Last night’s concert in Seattle, Washington was awesome. It my first time seeing Gwen (or No Doubt) since 2009 and the show was packed with energy, celebrations and nostalgia from the start. Even for someone that has followed the tour since day one, I was excited throughout and became giddy once Gwen started a new song including a few No Doubt tracks which I admit I was not 100% thrilled about (which I’ll get into a more a little later).
But Gwen is such a charmer and an amazing performer and cemented why I still adore and admire her now 20 years later. Seattle turned out for Gwen and I gauged that Key Arena was about 90% filled. And Gwen’s observations are right: the audience was all over the demographic. It was neat to see generations of fans there to support her from people that followed her back in the early days of No Doubt to children with their parents seeing Gwen for the first time.
The This Is What the Truth Feels Like tour has a little something for everyone and Gwen was really smart and creative with the setlist this time around. Gwen has stated several times in recent interviews that she chose certain songs (including a few surprising choices from No Doubt) because she wanted to tell a story and perform songs that were important to her. Which in case, “Don’t Speak” and “Just a Girl” are perfect examples, and they were huge during the show. Most fans (including the majority of casual ones) seemed to go nuts when the familiar chords of “Underneath It All” and the infectious pumping of “Hella Good” started. Like, really nuts. I’ll admit that it still felt strange hearing and seeing her perform these songs without Tom, Tony and Adrian, but they were still fun and nice additions to the set.
Now on to the show…
I arrived to Key Arena a little before 7:00PM and Eve opened up the show about 30 minutes later. I purchased premium seats and had a really nice view of the whole stage. I planned on taking a bunch of videos from the show from my phone and brought my old crappy camera for backup just in case (which was a good thing considering I didn’t think about how much space I actually needed).
Eeeeekk! Gx https://t.co/53W6KlzAnG
— Gwen Stefani (@gwenstefani) August 25, 2016
Merchanside booths were placed throughout the venue and featured a few tour tees including the yellow one with the surprise Irvine date listed which I picked up for $40 as well as the “Team Gwen” tumbler for $20. Fans were able to purchase a poster with the album artwork, pins, temporary tattoos, bracelets, Harajuku Lovers watches, tote bags and “Anaheim Hillbillies” swag.
8/24/2016 — Seattle, Washington — Key Arena at Seattle Center
Red Flag / Wind It Up / Baby Don’t Lie / Obsessed / Where Would I Be? / Cool / Make Me Like You / Underneath It All / Misery / Luxurious / Harajuku Girls / Let Me Blow Ya Mind (with Eve) / Rich Girl (feat. Eve) / Hella Good / What You Waiting For? / Rare / It’s My Life / Asking 4 It / Don’t Speak / Naughty / Used To Love You / Hollaback Girl // Truth / Just a Girl / The Sweet Escape
Gwen came onstage around 8:40PM and opened up with a video clip behind of herself talking about turning the worst time of her life into something good and her thoughts on thinking she would never tour again. It truly speaks for the show itself and it’s edited nicely with a lead-in into “Red Flag.” While it’s a surprising choice for the opening, “Red Flag” is killer live and Gwen sells it. The background video is full of handwritten lyrics and drawings to go along with the song and it’s extremely powerful. Being one of my favorite songs from Truth, I couldn’t wait to hear it myself in person!
Next, Gwen kicked off with “Wind It Up” which featured an awesome updated breakdown with whistles and trumpet accompaniment. Personally this was a highlight of the show for me and brought back a huge wave of nostalgia. “Wind It Up” has always been a personal favorite and reminded me of The Sweet Escape tour in 2007.
“Baby Don’t Lie” is a track that I’ve grown to love more over the last few months especially after hearing how solid it sounds live. Fans were skeptical of Gwen’s love for the song since it had little to no promotional performances since it’s release in 2014. She seems to really enjoy performing it and her mention of “hating liars” always seems to get the crowd going in a good way. Before going into the song, Gwen got on her knees and thanked God for being there and sincerely expressed how she wanted to spend the night singing her songs and getting to know the audience.
“Obsessed” was a welcomed surprise to the setlist considering it’s only available on deluxe editions of Truth, including the special edition released by Target. Thank goodness, because it’s a monster live. “Obsessed” takes on this crazy-rock sound that is absent from the album version and Gwen has so much fun with it onstage. This song in particular had me excited for my seats since I would be able to check out the background video finally. The clip features Gwen glammed up and driving to the song with text bubbles appearing to go along with the lyrics. It was one of my favorite parts of the show.
Another personal favorite from Truth, I was really excited to hear “Where Would I Be?” live for myself. I’ve always been a sucker for anything reggae-tinged from Gwen so I was instantly drawn to this track at first-listen. The band sounded so tight during this one and it was really fun seeing Gwen jam out onstage. Her little shout-out to “you in the beard right there” during the chorus was cute and she turned the theme around and directed it towards the asking where would she be without them. It was awesome!
Next, “Cool” drew one of the biggest responses from the night and had literally everyone on their feet singing along. You could tell that Gwen was truly basking in the moment and the song is just as gorgeous today live as it was back in 2005.
Before going into “Make Me Me Like You”, Gwen pulled up huge fan Reyna onstage that notably had made it out to 14 shows on the tour and was celebrating a birthday in Seattle. Gwen had the audience sing “Happy Birthday” to Reyna and called her her “Twitter girl”. It was a touching moment and well deserved for someone who has supported the tour so much.
Fans were asked to not bring in homemade signs into the show which are typically used to grab Gwen’s attention for a chance to get onstage. A couple from Australia were sneaky enough to get theirs in and caught Gwen’s eye and she immediately brought them up for a selfie. Gwen called out another fan in the pit for wearing a Kelly Clarkson t-shirt; he was brought onstage too and jokingly she asked him why he wasn’t wearing a Gwen Stefani tee.
“Make Me Like You” was also a pretty big song during the show that had everyone on a high. The single sounded really good live and it was fun to sing along with Gwen and dance. The background clip included shots from the video shoot with Target with graphic twists and turns reminiscent to the video itself.
Diving into the first No Doubt song of the night, Gwen introduced “Underneath It All” into the set after a few shows into the tour. You can tell that she really loves this song and her delivery is as smooth as ever. Though the video cuts out before the middle section (being the first time my phone died), Gwen’s band also incorporates the amped up ska breakdown that No Doubt mixed in on tour in 2004 which had her skanking around the stage like old times.
“Misery” was up next which featured a cool extended intro to allow Gwen her first costume change of the night. Her latest single came off as a powerhouse track which featured some incredible choreography from her dancers.
Next, “Luxurious” was another song that really got the crowd hyped and had Gwen asking where all of her “Love.Angel.Music.Baby. homies” were at. “Luxurious” also got an updated intro that sounded fresh but seemed to be cut short (or maybe I was just waiting for that amazing solo that bassist Gail Ann Dorsey did back on the Harajuku Lovers Live tour).
Gwen kept with L.A.M.B. and jumped into another surprising song in the set with “Harajuku Girls.” When keeping to the theme of her career while heading back out on the road, the song is completely appropriate and was a pleasure to hear live since she passed on it during her last tour in 2007. The background video was also really cute and fun and the Harajuku Lovers-ness brought on another wave of nostalgia.
But it only got better. It was obvious to everyone that Eve would eventually join Gwen onstage for their collaborative hits “Let Me Blow Ya Mind” and “Rich Girl”, but seeing them onstage together in that environment was surreal and really, really cool. These two women have such chemistry together and you realize again just how big and exciting these tracks were and it was such an amazing moment. The crowd went bananas (no pun intended) for “Rich Girl” and again it felt like a special moment in time that took me right back to 2005.
Before going into “Hella Good” (which is one of my favorite live songs from No Doubt), Gwen told a story of how the band drove up to Seattle for the first time back in the day and only played to five people in the audience. She laughed and then thanked everyone for coming out to see her. Oh Gwen, if only I wasn’t 6 back then, I would have been there! She joked around saying that Seattle fans are a little stuck-up considering the music that has came out of our area over the last few decades. Gwen took everyone to “the next level” with “Hella Good” and this was another song I was excited to check out the background video for. The energy was insane and Gwen still had everyone in the audience on their feet and jumping along. It was undeniably really fun.
Another all-time favorite of mine, “What You Waiting For?” was next which had Steve Bradley up first leading a new and stellar reggae instrumental intro. The break also gave Gwen time for another costume change before coming back onstage. The background video was pretty cool too and it featured artwork of Gwen and the Harajuku Girls by Danny Roberts and we’re assuming shots of Japan that may have been captured earlier this year during Fashion Week Tokyo.
For initially being one of my least favorite songs from Truth, “Rare” blew me away. The song is so sincere and beautiful and I couldn’t get over the serene backdrop video that featured stunning visuals of outdoor scenery over Gwen. She called it her favorite song from the album and it was obvious she was living in the moment. It was one of my favorites from the night and helped me appreciate the song even more.
Another song that Gwen holds close to her heart at this point in her life is “It’s My Life”, No Doubt’s cover of the Talk/Talk 80s hit. This was another one that you could tell she really enjoys performing and the backdrop video featured clips of Gwen dressed in a gorgeous gown and loose curls going up-and-down what looks like a hotel hallway.
Next, Gwen performed “Asking 4 It” which sounds pretty good live. It was impressive to see Steve come down and rap out Fetty Wap’s part which is darn near indistinguishable on the album version. The visuals were also really cool that featured a raging bond fire in the background with Gwen’s dancing silhouette in front of it.
After saying a little prayer to herself, Gwen performed a touching version of No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak”. It was pretty surreal hearing it in this environment but really special in these circumstances. Gwen’s emotions were running high and the audience seemed to love every second of it. It was cool to see the lighters and cell phones open up creating a sea of lights throughout the song. Steve came out and performed Tom’s solo on trumpet which was a really nice touch.
Being my favorite song from Truth, “Naughty” definitely lived up to the hype for me and is so good live. I was curious how the band was going to pull off the low bass drop during the chorus but they delivered. Gwen was so spicy during this one which was impressive since she just finished the biggest ballad of her career. “Naughty” is such a theatrical song so the bright illuminated backgrounds were a perfect match — especially the “YOU DID IT” and “YOU HID IT” lyrics flashing throughout. So good.
The song that caught me off guard the most during the night was “Used To Love You”. When the track first came out, it hit me like a ton of bricks due to the timing, it’s nature and my love for Gwen, and then the new album came and other songs ranked higher for me. But seeing it live gave me goosebumps. Even though I feel like I’ve seen the music video a million times, it’s still so raw and powerful and brings the performance to another level. I felt really emotional throughout the song and all I could do is stare at the screen and feel for Gwen all over again. Her vulnerability and strength is so inspiring and the biggest regret I have from the show is not capturing this one on video — but I felt like I was on another planet during “Used To Love You”. It was really moving.
“Hollaback Girl” was a monster. As soon as the beat dropped, everyone was on their feet and singing along. When the lights came on during the B-A-N-A-N-A-S part, it literally looked like you couldn’t fit anyone else in the building — it was massive. “Hollaback Girl” and Gwen’s energy was so infectious and it was pretty funny seeing everyone of all ages jamming out!
After another extended costume change break, Gwen came out for her encore with “Truth” which was just as beautiful as the album version. The background video featured stunning visuals of ocean waves sweeping in-and-out and Gwen’s vocals were lovely. She pointed to the audience throughout “Truth” during the “thank you for saving me” parts and it looked like she was truly in Heaven towards the end of the song.
Gwen took another moment in the show to wish good friend and bandmate of 21 years Stephen Bradley a Happy Birthday. Gwen jumped on his back and raved about him to the audience about how talented and incredible he is and asked for everyone to join in singing “Happy Birthday” to him. Her assistant Lizzy brought Steve a cake out onstage; it was adorable!
Next, Gwen kept the energy up with “Just a Girl”. While Gwen held off on the the push-ups and climbing rafters, it was still cool to hear the song again that got me hooked on No Doubt in the first place. All of the girls around me were freaking out as soon as the guitar kicked in and it had everyone on their feet and thrashing around. Gwen ended up dropping her microphone shortly into the song and ran over to the other side of the stage to grab a new one from a mic stand… which didn’t work either. It was a pretty funny moment and Gwen handled it like a true professional (and eventually a stagehand brought her out a new one that worked). Plus hearing “I’m just a girl in Seattle” again pushed me over the edge!
And finally, Gwen closed out the show with her huge hit “The Sweet Escape”. It was another one of those songs that brought me back in time and it was so good. “The Sweet Escape” is still super fun and it resonated with everyone in that arena. Gwen looked like she was having the time of her life onstage and she introduced her band and dancers towards the end. Everyone came together after an extended outro of the song for a bow to the audience with smiles on all of their faces.
Gwen seemed incredibly humbled and excited to be back in Seattle and praised my hometown city throughout the show. She really did have a pile of love for everyone and I’m sure we all felt a piece of it — I know I did. With the tour wrapping up soon, I hope fans were able to make it out to the shows or plan to in the near future. Don’t miss it. The Truth tour is obviously toned down compared to her previous tours but it’s understandable and her passion and music speak for itself.
It was an incredible show!
— Beacon Street Online (@beaconstreet) August 25, 2016