It was an all-white party when No Doubt took the stage at Starlight Theatre last night as part of their reunion tour.
Headlining a triple bill that also featured Paramore and Bedouin Soundclash, the members of No Doubt showed off the sort of lovable ska-eccentricity that made the group one of the most popular bands in the '90s.
As the capacity crowd cheered in anticipation, No Doubt emerged from their hiatus in variations of all-white suits, blond mohawks (faux and legitimate), and played on a stage of all-white contraptions that resembled gear fit for a spaceship landing. Drummer Adrian Young went shirtless and wore thick black lipstick that made him look like a cross between Travis Barker and the Joker.
The band, as the thousands of older fans in attendance well knew, is not from outer space, but a past decade by now nearly forgotten. With the energy of a loaded firearm, Gwen Stefani and company did their best to remind everyone what they'd been missing.
The set featured plenty of material from Tragic Kingdom, No Doubt's most popular album. And left no hit-single unnsung. More than a look forward to the much anticipated reunion album that the group plans to release, this evening was pure nostalgia. To the crowd's screaming delight, hits such "It's My Life," "Ex-Girlfriend," and "Just a Girl" were delivered perfectly on cue. (During "Running," a streaming montage of home video clips from the band's earliest days played on the television screen behind the stage.)
If there were any surprises, it was that midway through their tour -- and years past their height of popularity -- No Doubt continues to perform with the raw energy of an undiscovered punk band. Motherhood does not seem to have slowed down Stefani, whose cutoff white shirt showed off a set of sculpted abs that would make Usher croon with lovesick envy. Likewise bassist Tony Kanal, who in a considerable display of athleticism bunny-hopped with his bass all the way across stage.
When one unruly fan sprinted toward the stage past security, Stefani showed off the punk rebellion that still resides beneath the supergroup polish. "Look, security didn't even stop him," Stefani said, smiling as she accepted a T-shirt emblazoned with the title of one of her older songs, "Total Hate." Seconds later, they played the song. "I didn't even know I remembered the lyrics," Stefani admitted afterward.
One can only hope that the marketing team behind Paramore was taking notes during No Doubt's performance.
Although similarly fronted by a fiery female singer, Hayley Williams, Paramore's performance fell short of spectacular and leaned heavily toward the heavily manufactured look of a Disney production. Aside from Williams, who bounced on stage in gray hipster jeans and a striped tank-top, there was nothing distinguishable or remarkable about Paramore, either in terms of musical execution or performance. Two of the guitarists go-to moves consisted of synchronized high-stepping and head-banging, made all the more predictably annoying by their similar outfits (V-necks unbuttoned to the same second button) and haircuts.
Where No Doubt has always thrived on difference, Paramore seems content to continue wooing teenage fans and radio stations with an equal degree of uniformed conformity. "Decode," the best and most original song of the evening, came at the end of Paramore's set.
As the band departed, the drummer dismissively tossed his sticks to the crowd, put his head down and walked off. It may have been the most original -- and unchoreographed -- element of Paramore's entire performance.
Underneath It All
Excuse Me, Mr.
End It On This
Simple Kind of Life
Guns of Navarone
It's My Life
Just a Girl
Stand & Deliver