By Prachi Kamble
August 25, 2016
VANCOUVER — When I told people I was going to see Gwen Stefani, they looked at me with pity and confusion (sweet child, now why would you do something like that?), and then after considering it for a while were like, “actually that would be pretty cool, it sounds so out it must be in.” Stefani’s dirty laundry being washed in public recently hasn’t helped with enticing fans out of the woodwork of their now late-20s to early-30s adult lives. Rogers Arena had trouble selling out the venue and tickets were rumoured to have been given away at embarrassingly low prices. Once onstage, Gwen’s opening line to the fans was straight from the gut and emotional: “Thank you for showing up!” It was touching and a little sad. She then started playing songs that once upon a time must have packed venues from door to door. That’s when things went from doubtful to shameless fun at the Gwen Stefani 2016 concert, making it my most bizarre concert experience ever.
Eve opened the evening and played for a spirited half-hour with backup dancers doing the best they could. Stefani’s set list was a third new stuff, a third solo stuff and a third No Doubt stuff. Her outfits were not as spectacular as I expected from someone of her standing. She wore a multitude of Lara Croft outfits with ‘90s plaid skirts, showing off her Amazon warrior princess body. The production value of the show was quite threadbare too; compared to some of the shows of contemporary artists, even the up and coming ones, the lights and projections lacked creativity and detail. Despite all these shortcomings, Stefani used her biggest weapon to make sure everyone in the stadium had a great night – her songs! She sang back-to-back classic winners, “Rich Girl,” “Hollaback Girl,” “Cool,” “Hella Good,” “It’s My Life,” “What You Waiting For,” “Harajuku Girls.” Eve came back onstage for “Blow Your Mind” and the duo owned the stage, now two Amazon women instead of one. Her newer songs like “Used To Love You” didn’t get as excited a reception as her older work, still they were catchy and one could sway to them without a problem. It was clear to see that Stefani is now going down the mildly dance music route to sell records. That hurts a little since we grew up watching her break all the rules, fuelled by her glorious pink hair and bindis. She interacted with fans, pulling one onstage and politely dodging his sweaty kisses. Stefani ended the show with “Don’t Speak,” which caused everyone to lose their voice the next day, I am sure. Her encore consisted of “Sweet Escape” and “I’m Just A Girl,” and sent us out into the summer night with our ‘90s appetites satiated.
It’s hard to see your teen idols grow up, to witness the end of a musical career. Stefani still has some fight left in her and a repository of great songwriting. Her new work lacks her usual fight-the-system, fight-the-man elements and maybe that’s why it hasn’t resonated with fans, who love her for it. For this tour and probably the new album as well, it seems like her PR team definitely could have done better. This concert had all the makings of a disaster, but Stefani turned it around on the pure strength of her songs, and we as fans got to relive our teen years and sing our hearts out. We showed up and saved Gwen Stefani, and she saved us right back.BC, British Columbia, Eve, Gwen Stefani, Rogers Arena