No Doubt, Blink-182 flood Tweeter with music, theatrics

blink-300x295By Jae-Ha Kim
Chicago Sun-Times
June 15, 2004

The No Doubt and Blink-182 rock show had it all: great music, good cartwheels and a pair of shirtless and mohawked drummers.

Playing to a near-capacity crowd on Sunday at the Tweeter Center, neither band seemed bothered by the heat and humidity as the musicians ripped through sets that have been played before, but still managed to come across as fresh, brash and vibrant.

The word of the evening for both bands was a four-letter word that starts with F. Sure, you expect the boys from Blink-182 to get a kick out of swearing. But glamor girl Gwen Stefani?

The No Doubt frontwoman may be a movie star in training now, but her roots are in punk rock. She has also spent most of her life living and touring with a group of guys who don’t treat her like she’s just a girl.

But she was quite the girl onstage. Stefani vamped it up wearing itty bitty tops showing off cut abs and a blond ponytail almost as perky as she was.

The Tweeter Center can be merciless on sound, so it was a pleasant surprise that Stefani’s voice rang crisp and clear throughout the band’s set. Though the stage is cavernous, it seemed too small to contain her energy and theatrics. Whether executing a series of gymnastics-perfect cartwheels or running swiftly back and forth across the stage, she was a ball of motion.

That she never appeared to be winded is a testament to her physical strength. After 17 years of playing live, the 34-year-old Stefani could probably do this in her sleep. That she never appeared to be phoning it in is a testament to her professionalism.

Befitting the band’s latest album — a greatest-hits collection — No Doubt played all the songs everyone expected: “Spiderwebs,” “Don’t Speak,” “Hey Baby,” “Hella Good.” The band was tight. Bassist Tony Kanal and drummer Adrian Young — who at one point was thisclose to flashing full frontal nudity — set the tone with a muscular backbeat. Touring keyboard and horn players Stephen Bradley and Gabriel McNair were in their element, swaying along with Stefani.

Guitarist Tom Dumont got his chance to take center stage when he accompanied Stefani on an acoustic guitar for a lovely rendition of “Simple Kind of Life,” the song she supposedly wrote to nudge Gavin Rossdale, now her husband, to propose.

Co-headliner Blink-182, who closed this evening’s show, didn’t have as good a mix as No Doubt. But their music requires less nuance than most. There’s nothing subtle about this band — not their music, blinding lights or sense of humor.

While drummer Travis Barker — who broke his foot this spring — didn’t utter a peep, bassist Mark Hoppus and guitarist Tom DeLonge chattered throughout the show. When not playing a feverish set that included songs such as “All the Small Things” and “Adam’s Song,” they cracked one-liners of the scatological kind.

Dedicating a song to all the fathers who accompanied their kids to the concert, DeLonge said, “We all know they did it to have you here.”

In a nod to their young fan base, who are probably too young to remember lighters being waved at shows, Blink asked everyone to wave their cell phones. The sea of glowing cell phones — some of which were being used to snap photos of the band — was a sight to behold.

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