At the kickoff of its first tour since 2004, pop-rock band No Doubt was in perfect form, showing no signs of atrophy from a five-year break. Singer Gwen Stefani’s solo career derailed the group for years, and it looked for a while like No Doubt was done for good. But the strong return proved that there’s life left in this band yet, and brought Stefani back to earth after her stint as a big-time pop star.
Not that the show was some stripped-down minimalist affair. The four members and their two backing musicians were clad all in white to go along with the elegant all-white stage, while videos played on a huge screen behind them. The band’s playing was tight, its energy infectious, during a 90-minute set packed with hits, along with a handful of album tracks, plus the latest single, a cover of Adam and the Ants’ “Stand and Deliver.” The time away seemed only to have made No Doubt hungrier, eager to cultivate fans all over again.
Stefani repeatedly thanked the decent-size crowd (pockets of empty seats dotted the arena), even venturing into the audience during main-set closer “Just a Girl” to deliver her vocals amid some excited fans. She looked entirely comfortable away from the trappings of pop spectacle, playfully dancing with guitarist Tom Dumont and bassist Tony Kanal and singing each song with a renewed passion.
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There were no new numbers in the set, although “Excuse Me Mr.” got a slowed-down makeover a little reminiscent of The Police. “It’s all up to you guys if we make another record,” Stefani declared early in the evening. Judging from this performance, and the enthusiastic response, that new record is all but guaranteed