Thursday, August 06, 2009
No Doubt at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater (8/4/09)
I wish I could take credit for discovering No Doubt in the early days. It was my best friend in high school who told me about this insanely cool ska band from Anaheim called No Doubt. I listened to their self-titled debut album and was intrigued enough to check them out live.
We somehow heard that they were playing a warehouse in Orange back in 1994 when we were record shopping at Bionic records in Cypress. I will never forget being in a cramped warehouse watching No Doubt play to a small legion of devoted fans as they played a lot of tracks off their soon to be released Beacon Street Collection.
It is hard to believe that fifteen years later they would sell out four nights at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine. Even more astonishing is the fact that they did it without even releasing a new album. It was impossible not to smile while taking in their electric performance and thinking that they were having the time of their life on stage.
Even though they hail from Sweden, The Sounds seem to play the Los Angeles and Orange County area quite often. I even have a review of them back in November 2006 when they played the Galaxy theater with the Japanese Motors. I unfortunately missed their headlining secret show at the Key Club on their day off the No Doubt tour.
The Sounds may have the same background as they did in 2006 but definitely have a new album Crossing The Rubicon. Faced with a brief time slot, Maja Ivarsson (Vocals) quickly tore into the synthesizer fueled "Tony The Beat" from their prior album Dying To Say This To You.
The lyrics to "Hurt You" were playfully acted out onstage between Maya and her co-conspirators Felix Rodriguez (Guitars) and Jesper Anderberg (Guitars/Synthesizers)."Beatbox" and "Hope You're Happy Now" rounded out their way too short of a set. Luckily, The Sounds will be back at the Greek Theater on October 21st and at the House of Blues San Diego on October 23rd.
I don't think you could pack anymore people into the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine on both of the nights that I attended. The fire marshal must have been on vacation or a big fan because it was ridiculously stuffed. It was humorous to note that they even converted some of the men's bathrooms to women's in order to accommodate the 9:1 female to male ratio.
"Spiderwebs" was the perfect opener to the evening with its bouncy guitars courtesy of Tom Dumont (Guitars) and the loopy bass of Tony Kanal (Bass). Adrian Young was perched atop a large white spider shaped space ship. While Gwen attracts a lot of the attention, it is the combined skill, musicianship and chemistry of all the members that make No Doubt one of the top live bands today.
No Doubt unleashed hit after hit by tackling "Hella Good", "Underneath It All" and "Excuse Me Mr." in a row. In the photography department, I was a kid in the candy store. The stage lighting must have been designed by a concert photographer with numerous hot white spotlights following each band member and a gigantic colorful LCD screen behind them.
One would think that playing that many nights in a row might grow tedious, but the permanent grins attached to each member of the band could not be faked. I was particularly impressed with Gwen bringing individual fans up on stage to sign autographs and pose for pictures in between the songs. I can say that I haven't seen that at a show.
"New" was one of the highlights of the set with its driving palm-muted guitar riff and Virus like analog keyboard stabs. Synthesizers also played a large role in "Hey Baby" with the bass line making everyone's hips move. The crowd was going crazy throughout the evening with the whole lawn jumping up and down at the direction of Gwen at one point.
The spry cover of "Stand And Deliver" featured the assistance of Maja from the Sounds and Katy Perry. Katy Perry seemed to be shellshocked that she was even onstage with No Doubt because she barely sang. "Sunday Morning" closed out the evening in grand fashion that still left the 16,000 plus people wanting more. It seems that No Doubt could have sold out 4 more nights in Irvine if they wanted to.