Appearing energized by its recent cross-country jaunt, No Doubt’s 85-minute show was a constant blur of Gwen Stefani and bandmates racing about the large stage as they played a hits-filled set that also included a few cover tunes. Exciting renditions of the best songs from the band’s last three albums (such as “Excuse Me Mister,” “Hey Baby,” “Spiderwebs”) were offered in a tightly-arranged perf that kept the capacity crowd on its feet and cheering throughout.
Following the December release of multi-platinum “Greatest Hits” album it appeared the Orange County group would be on indefinite hiatus, as Stefani readied her first solo album (due in the fall) and wrapped her scenes as Jean Harlow for Martin Scorsese’s upcoming Howard Hughes biopic “The Aviator.” Pop-ska band instead did a co-headlining June tour with Blink-182 (which wrapped Saturday in Devore, Calif.), and followed those dates with a last-minute three-city No-Doubt-only swing.
For just the second time, the band played a medley of songs from two of its early musical influences, “All I Want To Do” by UB40 and “Racist Friend” by the Special AKA. The popular ballad “Don’t Speak” followed and was marked by fans holding aloft their glowing cell phones, which have replaced lighters as the concert illumination of choice.
“Bathwater” was played with the stage outfitted like an Old West speakeasy, complete with a trio of dancing girls, while “Simple Kind of Life” was rendered acoustic with Stefani and guitarist Tom Dumont.
“It’s My Life,” originally recorded by ’80s New Wavers Talk Talk, was dedicated to Jimmy Iovine, who signed the band to Interscope in the early ’90s. Show closed with the tune Stefani has described as her favorite ND song, the title track from 2001’s “Rock Steady” album, and the anthemic “Sunday Morning.”
No Doubt will perform at Santa Barbara Bowl Friday and Saturday.