Concert Review

Girl Power: Females Flock to Cricket Wireless Pavilion for No Doubt and Paramore

I really should have remembered to bring my earplugs with me last night.

Right now my ears are ringing something fierce after enduring a non-stop auditory assault of thousands of tweens and teenyboppers girls screaming in absolute elation during No Doubt and Paramore's show at Cricket Wireless Pavilion on Saturday night. Girl power was in full effect, as roughly two-thirds of the near-sellout crowd was made up of chickadees that turned out en masse to get their fill of female-fronted pop music. And Lord, did their lungs get a workout, shrieking like they were in the audience for The Ed Sullivan Show on February 7, 1964.

The kiddies had a lot to scream about, because, like, ZOMG, teh bestest band evar No Doubt was doing their first tour in, like, forever! <3 <3 <3 (Actually, it was only a five year absence, in which lead singer Gwen Stefani pumped out both an array of execrable dance-pop and a pair of kids with English, musician Gavin Rossdale).

If you'd like to recreate last night's show, pop The Singles 1992-2003 into your hi-fi and turn the volume all the way up, because the 19-song performance was essentially a "best of" showcase of their previous hits, as well as a few choice rarities. The lack of new material is reportedly due to a dry spell with trying to write songs for their new album, which is expected to come out later this year, and are using the tour to "get inspired."

But other then that one complaint, I really didn't have any other problems with the concert. While I considered trashing Stefani for abandoning No Doubt for tepid horseshit pop like "Hollaback Girl" and cheerleading outfits (only to return to her old "ska girl" look and band as a way of dealing with a mid-life crisis), eventually my inner fanboy won out over my music critic side and decided to just say "fuck it" and enjoy the show. No Doubt's performance crackled with energy, as Stefani and company put in an impressive effort overall. It certainly was better than their horrible rendition of "Just a Girl" on American Idol recently.

Much to my delight, they were backed up by touring musicians Stephen Bradley and Gabrial McNair, who busted out with a trumpet and trombone on songs like "Spiderwebs" and fantastic cover of the The Specials/ Skatalites ska standard "Guns of Navarone" during one of Gwen's offstage costume changes. For most of the show, however, the duo was dancing and jamming on the keyboards on either side of the funky retro-futuristic white platform/drum riser (resembling to a certain degree the alien-looking restaurant outside of Los Angeles International Airport) that dominated the stage.

In fact, the whole visual theme of the show was white, as the entire stage was bathed in the color, as well as the band's costumes. When they first marched onstage the whole deal looked like the antiseptic television room from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. It didn't stay that way for long, as the ginormous screen behind the band came alive with videos for each song that specially created just for the tour. The girltastic audience seemed to particularly enjoy the home movie footage of No Doubt from the early '90s that played during "Running."

Stefani was pretty smokin' back in those days, and, truth be told, she still looks pretty fine for someone who's about to turn 40. She definitely showed her age when attempting some jump-kicks during the first few songs that didn't get much air. The crowd didn't seem to mind, however, eating it up with a spoon. They also seemed particularly thrilled when she posed for pictures with a few audience members, many of whom were sporting the Gwen uniform of a white wifebeater, suspenders hanging down, and Doc Martens.

Speaking of Stefani clones, one might consider Paramore frontwoman Hayley Williams identical in many respects to the No Doubt princess (including, as one critic pointed out, their shared habits of hair dye and singing about breakups with boys). Williams certainly matched her counterpart in energy and enthusiasm during her band's 45-minute gig, including leading the audience in clap-alongs and bouncing about like a fourth grader on a Pixie Sticks bender. Paramore's been on a roll over the past 12 months, including landing a song on the Twilight soundtrack.

In fact, a few of the underage set in attendance were clad in tee shirts featuring Edward and Bella canoodling, including one high school-aged scamp who I overheard complaining about her own hearing problems after the show.

"Oh my God, I am so deaf right now," she exclaimed.

You and me both.


1. "Misery Business"
2. "For a Pessimist, I'm Pretty Optimistic"
3. "Pressure Play"
4. "Ignorance"
5. "Crushcrushcrush"
6. "Decoy"
7. "When It Rains"
8. "Where the Lines Overlap"
9. "That's What You Get"
10. "Let the Flames Begin"
11. "Decode"

No Doubt
1. "Spiderwebs"
2. "Hella Good"
3. "Underneath It All"
4. "Excuse Me Mr."
5. "Ex-Girlfriend
6. "End It on This"
7. "Simple Kind of Life"
8. "Bathwater"
9. "Guns of Navarone"
10. "New"
11. "Hey Baby"
12. "Running"
13. "Different People"
14. "Don't Speak"
15. "It's My Life"
16. "Just a Girl"
17. "Rock Steady" (encore)
18. "Stand and Deliver" (encore)
19. "Sunday Morning" (encore)

Critic's Notebook:

Last Night: No Doubt and Paramore at Cricket Wireless Pavilion on May 24, 2009.

Better Than: Watching Stefani perform any of her solo dance-pop shit from Love.Angel.Music.Baby.

Personal Bias: I prefer the version of No Doubt that I heard on their self-titled debut album from 1992.

Random Detail: Stefani did five pushups during "Just A Girl," which is more than my fat ass could ever do.

Further Listening: Boom Box, the 2003 box set which not only includes The Singles 1992-2003 and the far-superior B-sides compilation Everything in Time, but also DVDs of all their music vids and the concert video Live in the Tragic Kingdom.

By The Way: The theme to Battlestar Galactica (the original, not the recent Sci-Fi channel remake) was played when the members of No Doubt first walked on stage.

One More Thing: Stefani apparently brought her kids with her on tour, as a tweet from Cricket Wireless Pavilion's Twitter account stated: "By vote of the staff... Kingston wins for cutest kid in the world." (Bleh).

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.