MOUNTAIN VIEW — Gwen Stefani’s first childhood airplane flight took her from Orange County to San Francisco – and she returned Saturday night to sing in the Bay Area, where locals cheered at every mention of their home.
Stefani’s “This is What the Truth Feels Like Tour” came to the Shoreline Amphitheatre on a clear evening that cooled enough to let her fans dance to the upbeat music.
“This might be one of my favorite moments of my life right now,” she told the crowd, before asking, “What month is this?”
Her tour kicked off in July, played to two dozen cities across North America, then took a six-week break. The final four shows are later this month in Southern California.
If Stefani and her team of eight energetic dancers were rusty from the downtime, it didn’t show Saturday. Through 25 songs and three outfit changes, Stefani and her crew performed a well-choreographed mix of old and new material.
No Doubt’s frontwoman clearly drew long-time fans, with many in the crowd singing along to 1995 hit songs “Underneath It All” and “Don’t Speak.”
Saturday’s show kicked off with rapper Eve, who has collaborated several times with Stefani in the last decade. She later returned to the stage halfway through Stefani’s nearly two-hour show.
Stefani began with “Red Flag,” off her new album, before launching into the more well-known “Wind It Up,” with yodeling set against background footage of the Swiss Alps. Stefani, meanwhile, wore a red plaid outfit that matched her male dancers’ vests.
The song is from Stefani’s 2006 solo album, The Sweet Escape. Similarly received were “Harajuku Girls” and “Hollaback Girl” from 2004’s Love. Angel. Music. Baby. The latter song drew perhaps the biggest cheers from the crowd, which clearly didn’t know her new material as well. But it’s likely that one man, whom Stefani pulled from the audience, did know the new album: The fan said something to her and she shouted into her microphone: “Are you serious?! Of all the 17,000 people here, I pulled the guy who’s been to over 100 shows?”
She took selfies on the stage with him before releasing him back to security, a stunt she also pulled with a female fan whose “Please sign my tattoo” sign caught Stefani’s attention. As quickly as she had singled out the fan, Stefani was back to the show, with a cover of Talk Talk’s “It’s My Life,” a tune No Doubt also covered last decade.
On “Asking 4 It” and No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak,” she singled out trumpeter Stephen Bradley, who is originally from Oakland. Bradley performed with No Doubt and toured with Stefani on her last tour in 2007.
With a nearly 10-year break between albums, three children, and a divorce whose heartbreak spawned much of her new album, Stefani’s show was a diverse mix. Loyal No Doubt fans may have been left wishing for the old days of more ska and rock, while Harakuju fans were left wanting more electropop and R&B.
Two things not lacking were the heavy bass and Stefani’s clear voice.