Local Reviews for No Doubt’s Gibson Debut

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The reviews are starting to come in for No Doubt’s debut at Gibson Amphitheater and they are all glowing. While I’m not a big fan of the commentary before the actual review of the show, so I removed a little of it but please check out the full article if you’re interested. The writer does commend the band for playing five of the most standout tracks from the new album. He continued by saying the new songs fit so well into the set that it would be hard for a casual listener to tell that they were being played for the first time.

He writer also praises the band for always looking forward with their sounds and how you can’t even pinpoint them to one genre.

The best part of the review is the kudos he gives to Gabe and Steve for sounding tighter than ever and for always being a solid foundation for No Doubt.

Click here for more photos from the show and videos.

OC Register — …. Yes, they played five cuts from it, including four of the best: the title track to open, infectious lead-off hit “Settle Down” toward the end, and tender takes on the album’s more wistful bits, “Sparkle” and “One More Summer,” tucked into an scaled-down segment in the middle of the 19-song set. Even with the one stinker – the not-ironic-enough “Looking Hot,” a curious choice to leave for the encore – the band stripped away Spike Stent’s slick production to restore some innate hard-charging feistiness to the tune.

Somehow seeing Stefani pogo to it rather than slip into faux-sexy or cat-prowl mode elicited a different kind of energy. Or maybe she was just gearing up for the next blast, an unexpected dip into The Beacon Street Collection for the Sublime-y skank ’n’ thrash of “Total Hate,” which they tore into with concentrated fervency, as if summoning their younger garage-destroying selves.

“We never thought we’d ever play this song again,” she said as an introduction, but fans voted for its inclusion online and No Doubt obliged.

Yet therein lies the confusion over how this gang should best get back to its roots: which roots? Once Tragic Kingdom took off, the nebulous earlier stuff that makes Ska Parade junkies nostalgic was quickly cast aside. The idea that they would revisit that era is just as juvenile as insisting they should have made another album like their blockbuster breakthrough – as if they could ever be heartbroken and struggling enough to create something so determined and zeitgeist-tapping again.

Though No Doubt’s evolution was needlessly stalled throughout the ’00s, the reality is that the group has never stopped propelling forward. What has held things together so solidly – both the music and the band – is recognizable identity. At their best – and Saturday night they often were – there’s a vitalizing feel they achieve that courses through track after track, regardless of stylistic detours.

So it was again at this “first show we’ve done in about three and a half years,” Stefani acknowledged after a slam through “Hella Good” that had the place roaring and leaping in unison. Not only did Push and Shove songs slot so seamlessly into the mix that a casual fan would have been hard-pressed to figure out whether they were old or new, but the bulk of the performance essentially picked up where the reunion outing of 2009 left off.

Their fashions are even similar, collectively rocking the black-and-white checkered look, with Gwen in a shimmering bodysuit-and-boots look that would make Shirley Manson envious. (Young, ever the gender-bender, began the evening in a similarly tight and revealing get-up – but soon enough stripped down to skivvies.)

Nothing about their choices was surprising yet everything about it was satisfying, careening from an extra blunted “Underneath It All” to ripping renditions of “Ex-Girlfriend” and “New” that seemed faster than before, bolstered by nimble riffing from Dumont, and concluding with all those crowd-thrilling monsters from “Tragic Kingdom” – “Sunday Morning,” “Don’t Speak,” “Just a Girl,” “Spiderwebs” to end it all.

They’d be first to admit it wasn’t flawless: “You guys are like the dress rehearsal,” Stefani half-joked after having some trouble removing a glittering red coat she wore for the encore. (Some lucky devotee in the front row, who helped her out of it, went home with a very expensive souvenir.) She also fessed-up to flubbing a line or two of “Sparkle,” a sequel of sorts to the similarly introspective “Running,” one of only a few hits they didn’t play. (“Bathwater” was another, and for a familiar cover they chose their version of Talk Talk’s “It’s My Life,” not their similarly faithful redo of Adam and the Ants’ “Stand and Deliver.”)

Any detectable mistakes didn’t matter. The boys in the band, including crucial utility players Stephen Bradley and Gabrial McNair, remain as instinctively tight as any group from their generation or later, and their singer sounds better than ever, even when her phrasing on “Don’t Speak” turned messy. Rustiness like that was easily covered by heartfelt enthusiasm and believable emotion – never more so than during the unplugged portion, begun with a superb rethinking of “Hey You!” and including a moving version of “Simple Kind of Life” that captured an intimacy you rarely find at large-scale concerts anymore.

Through that whole stretch, Gwen gave the best vocal performance I’ve heard from her in virtually 20 years of covering No Doubt. No artifice and posing, just pipes aplenty.

It was the clear highlight of a robust show that should only grow sharper as this every-other-night pattern wears on for much of two weeks. By the end of it, they’ll have silenced the naysayers who think they’re washed up. There’s still a lot of push-and-shove left in ’em yet.

No Doubt, with Grouplove and Nico Vega opening, plays again at Gibson Amphitheatre at Universal CityWalk on Nov. 26, 28 and 30 and then Dec. 2, 4 and 6. Tickets are sold out, but I bought my plum Saturday spot the day before on StubHub for $35 less than face value.

Set list: No Doubt at Gibson Amphitheatre at Universal CityWalk, Nov. 24, 2012
Main set: Push and Shove / It’s My Life (Talk Talk cover) / Hella Good / Underneath It All / Ex-Girlfriend / Hey Baby / New / Hey You! (acoustic) / Sparkle (acoustic) / Simple Kind of Life (acoustic) / One More Summer (acoustic) / Sunday Morning / Happy Now? / Settle Down / Don’t Speak / Just a Girl
Encore: Looking Hot / Total Hate / Spiderwebs

Update:

Here is one from the LA Times.

In the mid-1990s, a curious sound infiltrated mainstream pop music: ska, the swingin’, pre-reggae dance style born in 1960s Jamaica. It was an odd turn at the tail end of the grunge era, and mirrored the rise of the late ’70s British groups the Specials, Madness, the English Beat and the Selecter when they stormed British charts after the first wave of punk.

The so-called third wave of ska propelled No Doubt and its charismatic lead singer, Gwen Stefani, to stardom when its 1995 album, “Tragic Kingdom,” erupted out of Anaheim after three years of the band bubbling under. The group, which performed the first of a six-night residency at the Gibson Amphitheatre on Saturday night, rose amid a skankin’ frenzy that included acts such as Reel Big Fish, Sublime, Rancid and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones.

But ska was just the springboard, and over the next decade, No Doubt went global. The energy generated from Stefani prowling and gangsta-leaning across big stages while delivering honest lyrics about her hopes, frustrations, heartbreaks and romances filled the hearts and heads of a generation.

On Night 1, that enduring spirit poured into the Gibson. Performing its first full set since 2009, in support of its first album in more than a decade, “Push and Shove,” No Doubt repeatedly showed why it, of all the groups to rise out of that curiously strong pop collision, remains.

From that ska seed rose a uniquely Californian sound. It and kindred spirits Sublime embodied the essence of the region’s youth culture via a tweaked, rhythm-heavy varietal like few others coming out of the Southland before it, and in the process created a catchy, hummable brand of melting-pot pop that internalized rock, hip-hop and Latino sounds as well.

As evidenced by the giddy, electric crowd singing along to every line of 2000‘s “Simple Kind of Life,” and the furious joy of nearly every female at the Gibson screaming all the words to “Don’t Speak,” that sound continues to hit both with the core of the band’s fan base moving into their mid-30s and the heavy population of teens and twentysomethings at the gig too young to remember the group the first time around.

From the rocksteady backseat romance of “Underneath It All” to the brash urban funk of “Hella Good,” the ska-punk of early jam “Total Hate 95” and the cheap come-on of “Hey Baby,” No Doubt illustrated how it has evolved over its life into a multifaceted musical machine. This is due not only to Stefani but also to the band surrounding her. Without them, she’s a strong singer with good pop sense and a way with words; with them she’s the emboldened leader of a unit that demands to be taken seriously.

Though bassist Tony Kanal grew up all over the place (England, Canada, Indiana and, ultimately, Orange County), his musical heart is in Kingston. You could hear it in his deep, dubby runs during “Sparkle,” from “Push and Shove.” One of the highlights, it was performed by the group semi-acoustically in a circle near the front of the stage, offering clear evidence that, even on the first evening of the residency, the band had locked back into place.

Skinny drummer Adrian Young, wearing only his skivvies and a mohawk, is a joy to watch, and banged confident rhythms throughout the night as touring members Gabrial McNair and Stephen Bradley pumped out keyboard and trombone runs. Guitarist Tom Dumont offered ska-inflected downbeat strums and tightly wound melodic dots. And to many, Stefani was the stuff of dreams.

“Have you had the fantasy of being Gwen Stefani,” asked singer Aja Volkman of opener Nico Vega, and all the girls — and probably a few of the guys — screamed a big yes. A little while later, a member of fellow openers Grouplove declared of No Doubt, “We’ve loved them our whole lives.”

This was truth. Even more than a singing voice, which Stefani proved is as steady as ever, her performance and its response illustrated how strong of a lyrical voice hers has been to the generation reared on it. “It’s all your fault I screen my phone calls,” she sang in “Spiderwebs,” the audience bouncing along with her.

If one of pop music’s key purposes is putting structure and melody to life’s many experiences, Stefani on Saturday showed that her questions and concerns have been pondered by millions.

Such resonance isn’t only in No Doubt’s past, though. As No Doubt showed on the infectious recent single “Settle Down,” it continues to document emotions that connect on a grand scale.

“Get, get, get in line and settle down,” she sang to an undisciplined other while her band disobeyed her with floor-shaking rhythms and the crowd shouted along: “I’m a rough and tough and nothing’s gonna knock this girl down.”

She left little room for argument — not that anyone had reason to doubt her.

Update:

OC Weekly has shared some incredible photos they took from the show!

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