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The Return of Saturn

No Doubt

show review by Hailey Van Meeter

For the second time on their massive, enormous, just plain huge comeback tour, No Doubt rocked the Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre in Chula Vista on Saturday August 8th, 2009 and proved that even if the tour is gigantic, it’s the small things that make it special.

Fifty-six mainland shows in the course of a summer is quite a packed schedule that could easily disgruntle any band but No Doubt mixed their two decades of touring experience with their smarts and concocted a truly fun-filled lineup that banished stress from your mind and put a bounce in your step.

At right: Gwen, onstage during the No Doubt 2009 during No Doubt’s 2009 summer reunion tour.

Warming up the stage for the majority of the tour was Swedish-rock band, The Sounds who just released their third album, Crossing the Rubicon in June. Blonde-haired beauty and front woman, Maja Ivarsson kept her vocals tight and in sync while she twirled her mic to the pulsating instruments of her well-seasoned band who caught the attention of the crowd with recent tracks like “Dorchester Hotel”, “Beatbox” and their latest single, “No One Sleeps When I’m Awake”. Long-time fans were entertained with old favorites like “Hope You’re Happy Now”, “Painted by Numbers” and “Hurt You” during the band’s six-song (and in my opinion, too short) set.

With The Sounds’ solid playlist over, I was left wondering just how Panic! At the Disco would fill the second set void left by Paramore (who played on the tour for the first 52 dates). Panic!’s set was a balanced blend of rowdy, circus themed songs from 2005’s platinum wonder, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out and calmer more soulful tracks from last year’s Pretty.Odd. Despite the recent departure of two former members, Brendon Urie (vocals) and Spencer Smith (drums) managed their full array of songs quite beautifully with the exception of a slight mistuned acoustic guitar during “Northern Downpour”. As expected singles like “Lying is the Most Fun a Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off”, “Nine in the Afternoon”, and “That Green Gentleman” were performed with wonderful energy. Listeners also got to hear their new single, “New Perspective” which showcased a lively beat that marks a progression from their previous albums and lineup. Panic! At the Disco’s performance was closed out with their monstrous first hit, “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” that definitely got the crowd ready for headliners, No Doubt.

The beginning of No Doubt’s show started with a huge screen behind the set with the four band members’ shadows projected onto it. A glimpse of their mere images set fire to the crowd in the form of shouting and ear-piercing screams full of mounting anticipation.
“Spiderwebs” opened up the final set of a summer long tour for one of music’s biggest groups. Non-stop dancing continued through “Hella Good” and “Underneath It All”. Spectators received a much needed rest during “Excuse Me Mister” and “End It On This” off of 1995’s Tragic Kingdom. Viewers got an entertaining James Bond like search and destroy video during “Ex-Girlfriend” that featured various band members firing away at each other. Although the constant images streaming behind the stage were unnecessary, it surely added a sparkle of unique amusement that other bands seem to lack. Craze-filled exhilaration once-again blazed through the audience during continued hits, “Simple Kind of Life” and “Bathwater” while the band treated us to a cover of The Skatalite’s “Guns of Navarone” (and later Talk Talk’s “Its My Life”).

With an instrumental segment that masked a wardrobe change by Gwen Stefani, the band was back and strumming through “New” and the wildly popular reggae-rock hit, “Hey Baby”. An impressive montage of sentimental videos played on the screen behind the band as they performed Rock Steady’s “Running”. “Different People” provided a very interactive session between the rock stars on stage and the 17,000 wide-eyed fans staring up at them. A dedicated fan even got his No Doubt tattoo signed by Stefani during a break in between songs. The show was back on with a beautiful performance of “Don’t Speak” that captivated us all and got us ready for what we feared was the last song. To pump us for “Just a Girl”, Gwen Stefani showed off her 8-pack abs and sheer awesomeness by kicking off the female anthem with such a rigorous set of push-ups that even had the manliest of men drenched in envy. During the 4 minute song, No Doubt managed to get everyone to shout back at them and even have the boys wishing that they were just a girl in this world.

After a five minute stage blackout (and another costume change), the foursome (technically there’s six band members if you count the touring trumpeter and keyboardist) graced the stage one last time and poured out their 2001’s Rock Steady title track. The truly magnificent and upbeat event of the encore was when the entire band beat on huge drums sprawled across the floor to Adam and the Ants’ “Stand and Deliver” (which they originally recorded for an episode of the CW’s Gossip Girl). No Doubt was even joined on stage by Grunge-rock band, Garbage’s front woman Shirley Manson, The Sounds’ Maja Ivarrson (who mimicked Stefani’s outfit almost exactly) and other band members from the night’s previous acts that were sporadically spread over the massive stage that was illuminated with excitement and liveliness. The final song of such a great night was “Sunday Morning” which ended ironically only 30 minutes from Sunday morning.

While No Doubt hadn’t been on the road in five years, and we all had seen them pursue different endeavors ranging from building families, playing in other bands or designing fashion lines one thing remained evident. Although they may age, their music still remains timeless.

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