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No Doubt "Fires up the Night "
July 28, Berkeley, CA
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With an almost non-stop barrage of high-energy pop, No Doubt rocked the house with perfectly executed and dance-happy, to the delight of the predominantly teenage audience at the outdoor Greek Amphitheater in Berkeley CA. Delivering an enthusiastically rendered, 85-minute performance, the combo, propelled by Gwen Stefani, the frontwoman with bubblegum-tinted hair, served up large chunks of their multimillion selling 1995 breakthrough "Tragic Kingdom" and their recently released fourth disc, "Return Of Saturn." Emerging in a fuchsia pink jacket to match her hair with a white rhinestone leotard top underneath, Stefani has grown from a doll-like figure, into a stunning woman since we last saw her. Where before her moves were more like something off a Taibo tape, she now slinks and vamps like a junior Mae West. Leaping into "New," off the new album, Stefani owned the stage straight off. The group's New Wave, ska-influenced pop remains a bubbly confection that not even a muddy sound mix could flatten. Coming off like the test-tube spawn of '80s rock icons Cyndi Lauper and Missing Persons' mouthpiece, Dale Bozzio, Stefani bounced non-stop about the stage like a pinball, albeit a squeaky-voiced one. Her bandmates, guitarist Tom Dumont, bassist Tony Kanal and drummer Adrian Young, plus a pair of auxiliary horn players and dancers kept up with their fearless leader admirably, following her everywhere from the opening rush of "Ex-Girlfriend" to the speed reggae of "Sunday Morning" through the wistfully lyrical "Simple Kind of Life" and beyond. When not doing cartwheels or scampering up the scaffolding to the top of the lighting rig, Stefani managed some seriously impressive singing along the way. Her coos helped make the relatively introspective "Magic's in the Makeup" work, while she turned it up on the claustrophobic rave-up "Trapped in a Box." No Doubt ended this often chaotic evening of music in typically chaotic fashion, inviting both opening acts back to join them for an encore sprint through their peppy hit "Spiderwebs." No Doubt still throws a great live show.

By Randy Cohen

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