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Live Report: No Doubt in '02

Gwen rocks but doesn't deliver the funk

June 6, 2002
No Doubt singer Gwen Stefani onstage.
No Doubt singer Gwen Stefani onstage.
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Smith Center, George Washington University
April 26, 2002
Washington, D.C.

There wasn't a moment during No Doubt's performance for college kids and their 'tweener siblings when Gwen Stefani's glamour-girl face and body weren't in sinuous, crowd-stoking motion. The singer's beauty and the band's bounce kept the vibe lively, but the music often stalled under the group's static interpretation of ska. No Doubt blasted off with “Hella Good” — a piece of genial funk that opens the band's 2001 Rock Steady album — and got the audience pogo-ing. But for the most part, No Doubt only came alive onstage in the same places they do on record: on “Hella Good” and “Rock Steady,” which adapts the simple push-pull of a slow ska beat to a gorgeous near-ballad. “In My Head” pumped up the menace of the basic guitar line and exploded on the chorus; and “New” was fast and fun. But the appeal of the vertical bounce wore on the audience just as the band played the syncopated party anthem “Hey Baby,” rolling out an enormous neon ND banner, which blared out like the proven brand name it is.

This story is from the June 6th, 2002 issue of Rolling Stone.

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