PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Reviews

Gwen Stefani

Katrina-Kasey Wheeler

Stefani has established herself as both a queen of pop and a major force in the fashion world, but no amount of high-end design can fill the seats. For that, you need a serious stage show.

Gwen Stefani

Gwen Stefani

City: Oakland, California
Venue: Oracle Arena
Date: 2007-11-02

In 2004, Gwen Stefani took what seemed like a big chance, stepping away from her role as singer in super-successful pop act No Doubt to go the solo road. Looking back, of course, perhaps it wasn’t such a gamble. Her first solo venture, Love, Angel, Music, Baby, was a stunning success, and in many ways it’s already eclipsed the accomplishments of her former band (who, to be fair, did have its fare share of hits). And, in the short time between 2004 and 2007, Stefani has established herself as both a queen of pop and a major force in the fashion world. Of course, no amount of high-end design -- not even L.A.M.B. and Harajuku Lovers -- can fill the seats. For that, you need a serious stage show. Setting the scene for Stefani at Oakland’s Oracle Arena, reggae/R&B popster Sean Kingston performed radio smashes like “Beautiful Girls”, “Take You There”, and a remixed version of Fergie’s “Big Girls Don’t Cry”. After a brief intermission, the lights dimmed, and a sea of fans -- parents with children and unaccompanied adults alike -- began to scream in anticipation of the opening number. While her most recent album, 2006’s The Sweet Escape, didn’t fare quite as well as her debut (at least as far as critics were concerned), the massive arena was absolutely packed. This marked the penultimate show on Stefani’s The Sweet Escape tour, so anticipation was high -- she had, after all, had plenty of time to perfect her performance. While many in attendance were certainly fans more familiar with her recent work, it was clear that more than a few No Doubt lovers were also in attendance. Asian dance crew the Harajuku Girls -- best known for their appearances in Stefani videos like “What You Waiting For”, “Crash”, and “Hollaback Girl” -- ran into the audience in prison-uniform apparel, signaling Gwen’s impending emergence. Appearing in a gilded cage, Stefani sent the audience into controlled hysteria, opening with “The Sweet Escape” before breaking into “Rich Girl” and following with “Yummy". The mood changed as Gwen belted out ballads like “4 in the Morning”, “Luxurious”, and “Early Winter” -- the latter being the singer’s “favorite song that she has been a part of.” The evening’s performance of “Wind It Up”, meanwhile, featured recognizable samples music from the The Sound of Music (perhaps a nod to the older folks in the audience?). Stefani soon rocked out “Danger Zone” before breaking into the anthem-like “Hollaback Girl”. Showing its adoration for Stefani’s biggest solo hit, the audience sang along: “This shit is bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S!” The mood again changed abruptly, however, as Gwen performed “Wonderful Life”, with a dedication to her first boyfriend’s life (he apparently committed suicide). Overcoming her emotions, Stefani returned after a costume change and ran into the crowd to perform “Cool”. After a romp with the audience, she retook the stage for hometown homage “Orange County Girl”. If the cheering was any indication, the audience wasn’t yet ready to say goodbye. No worries, since she came back out with her six-piece band for an a capella version of “The Real Thing”, in which she let her bass player sing a solo. The last song of the evening was “What You Waiting For?”, which included a dramatic piano intro. Stefani’s band was just as charismatic as she is, a band fit for a rock star -- good thing, since that’s what she is. Indeed, everything from the set list to the visuals and props displayed a larger-than-life aura. One thing’s certain: years after Gwen Stefani first emerged as a major presence in the world of pop music, she’s finally got a show to match.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Books

Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.

Film

In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.

Music

The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.

Television

The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.

Music

The 20 Best Tom Petty Songs

With today's release of Tom Petty's Wildflowers & All the Rest (Deluxe Edition), we're revisiting Petty's 20 best songs.

Joshua M. Miller
Music

The 11 Greatest Hits From "Greatest Hits" Compilations

It's one of the strangest pop microcosms in history: singles released exclusively from Greatest Hits compilations. We rounded 'em up and ranked 'em to find out what is truly the greatest Greatest Hit of all.

Music

When Punk Got the Funk

As punks were looking for some potential pathways out of the cul-de-sacs of their limited soundscapes, they saw in funk a way to expand the punk palette without sacrificing either their ethos or idea(l)s.

Music

20 Hits of the '80s You Might Not Have Known Are Covers

There were many hit cover versions in the '80s, some of well-known originals, and some that fans may be surprised are covers.

Music

The Reign of Kindo Discuss Why We're Truly "Better Off Together"

The Reign of Kindo's Joseph Secchiaroli delves deep into their latest single and future plans, as well as how COVID-19 has affected not only the band but America as a whole.

Books

Tommy Siegel's Comic 'I Hope This Helps' Pokes at Social Media Addiction

Jukebox the Ghost's Tommy Siegel discusses his "500 Comics in 500 Days" project, which is now a new book, I Hope This Helps.

Music

Kimm Rogers' "Lie" Is an Unapologetically Political Tune (premiere)

San Diego's Kimm Rogers taps into frustration with truth-masking on "Lie". "What I found most frustrating was that no one would utter the word 'lie'."

Music

50 Years Ago B.B. King's 'Indianola Mississippi Seeds' Retooled R&B

B.B. King's passion for bringing the blues to a wider audience is in full flower on the landmark album, Indianola Mississippi Seeds.

Film

Filmmaker Marlon Riggs Knew That Silence = Death

In turning the camera on himself, even in his most vulnerable moments as a sick and dying man, filmmaker and activist Marlon Riggs demonstrated the futility of divorcing the personal from the political. These films are available now on OVID TV.

Film

The Human Animal in Natural Labitat: A Brief Study of the Outcast

The secluded island trope in films such as Cast Away and television shows such as Lost gives culture a chance to examine and explain the human animal in pristine, lab like, habitat conditions. Here is what we discover about Homo sapiens.

Music

Bad Wires Release a Monster of a Debut with 'Politics of Attraction'

Power trio Bad Wires' debut Politics of Attraction is a mix of punk attitude, 1990s New York City noise, and more than a dollop of metal.

Music

'Waiting Out the Storm' with Jeremy Ivey

On Waiting Out the Storm, Jeremy Ivey apologizes for present society's destruction of the environment and wonders if racism still exists in the future and whether people still get high and have mental health issues.

Music

Matt Berninger Takes the Mic Solo on 'Serpentine Prison'

Serpentine Prison gives the National's baritone crooner Matt Berninger a chance to shine in the spotlight, even if it doesn't push him into totally new territory.

Music

MetalMatters: The Best New Heavy Metal Albums of September 2020

Oceans of Slumber thrive with their progressive doom, grind legends Napalm Death make an explosive return, and Anna von Hausswolff's ambient record are just some of September's highlights.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.