NO DOUBT ABOUT IT
GWEN STEFANI AND CREW ROCK THE GUVERNMENT
Toronto, ON - The Guvernment
TORONTO -- Confused is probably not the mood No Doubt's Gwen Stefani was going for at the
Guvernment Monday night.
But the sprightly singer couldn't help but marvel as the front row of the sold-out house insisted on singing
along with tunes from No Doubt's long-awaited Return Of Saturn, an album that won't hit stores for another two weeks.
"How can you know the words?!" Stefanie queried, mid-way through the special pre-release gig.
She went on to jokingly blame drummer Adrian Young for leaking the material online. Deep down, Stefani, Young,
guitarist Tom Dumont and bassist Tony Kanal -- plus the auxiliary horn/keyboard section of Gabe McNair and Phil Jordan --
must have been relieved by this little breach of security.
The crowd of 1'200 may have just been reeling in excitement over the new album's unveiling, but rather than
look on in expectation, they were bouncing participants throughout.
Return Of Saturn, out April 11 in Canada, is No Doubt's first album since their 1995 smash Tragic
Kingdom, which took them from being regional, Southern Californian pop-punk-ska curiosity to international stardom.
Monday marked the band's third actual gig since packing up in 1997 after two years of touring. Surprisingly,
they showed none of the rust that often slows down groups on the eve of a major album push.
Stefani's apologetic comment that No Doubt "didn't mean to take so long" in the studio aside, the quartet
must have wisely whipped themselves into terrific shape before emerging to play for paying audiences again.
Stefani -- she of the shapely arms and famous bare belly -- was tirelessly cheerleader-like, from appropiately
titled show opener New through the pre-encore closer, new single Ex-Girlfriend.
No Doubt buoyed the set with requisite Tragic Kingdom hits Sunday Morning and Spiderwebs,
pop confection that has actually stood the test of time well over the past half-decade, through the maudlin, '80s era Madonna-ness
of hit ballad Don't Speak came close to spoiling the party.
The echoey confines of the Guvernment didn't make for the best listening booth for the new stuff. Stand-out
new tune Bathwater was instantly recognizable, while upcoming single Simple Kind of Life diverged bravely
into dreamy, power-pop space.
No guarantee on how well Return Of Saturn will hold up without No Doubt's ample live charm, but judging
on crowd response, it'll probably be far from tragic.
ABSOLUTELY NO DOUBT
Toronto, ON - Molson Amphitheatre
TORONTO - While Lit, one of three bands that performed at the Molson Amphitheatre last night,
was boring us to death, some friends got to pondering what it must be like for a group to witness its popularity dwindle.
The band in question was headliners No Doubt, a quartet that packed Maple Leaf Gardens to the hilt -- that's
16'000 heads -- a couple of years back, but was able to draw only 3'000 this time around.
"We went platinum (in Canada)," Gwen Stefani told the gathering that roared its approval. She was referring
to the fact that No Doubt's most recent effort, Return Of Saturn, has sold 100'000 copies here. Impressive, but,
um, their last album, Tragic Kingdom, sold one million units.
Falling fortunes aside, the southern California group gave all that they have, just as they always do in concert.
Fronted by the colourful dynamo and erstwhile Girl Power goddess who is Stefani, No Doubt turns out New Wave
for kids who weren't around when it was all the rage.
Ska, punk and reggae, albeit ultra-lite verisons of all three, also creep into their songs, giving them the
requisite bounce appeal.
No Doubt is equally adept at knocking off shiny, happy pop that makes young girls pogo in public and in their
Now, if you contest the fact that No Doubt attrats more young women than boys, you should have heard how they
outsand us during Excuse Me Mr.?
It must be said that this demographic gravitates toward Stefani for reasons other than her exuberance.
She sings of insecurity (Bathwater), uncertainty in life (Too Late), and heartbreak (Don't
Speak) with an honesty that puts many of the teen stars ruling the charts to shame.
Oh yeah, getting back to Lit, one of the two opening acts. How dreadful were they? They were so bad that I
actually entertained whipping off home and taking out seven-month-old Basset Hound for a stroll while they churned out song
after song that sounded the same.
California-based hip-hop crew Black Eyed Peas had the unenviable task of kicking off the night while the sun
still shone and people trickled in, but the nine-strong group didn't let this deter them from delivering a funky, animated
Judging by the reaction of the few at hand, the Peas -- comprised of three rappers who took turns breakdancing,
a DJ, a drummer, keyboardist, guitarist, bassist, and a honey-voiced singer (Kim Hill) -- made quite a converts last night.
Bridging The Gaps, it's second album arrives in stores in September.