Gwen Stefani

At the Santa Barbara Bowl, Saturday, November 3.

Gwen Stefani hit the Santa Barbara Bowl on Saturday, announcing the end of her solo career and her upcoming return to No Doubt.
Paul Wellman

“Alright Santa Barbara, I need you to sing really loud with me on this one, because I want to remember this night for the rest of my life!” Gwen Stefani demanded. And, for 90 minutes, everyone in the sold-out Bowl crowd obeyed. Standing up in the second-to-last row with my two younger sisters, I jumped, “hollaback”-ed, and swayed as Stefani pranced onstage and off into the crowd in an astonishing number of sequined costumes. My eyes found happy distraction in the mind-candy aspect of it all. The show had a sailor-girl-meets-Alice-in-Wonderland aesthetic, and included random trampoline acrobatics, a giant flashing “G,” and slideshows of Gwen’s music videos, fashion shoots, and personal childhood photos.

I first fell in love with the bindi-bejeweled, six-pack flaunting No Doubt frontwoman when she first did push-ups onstage. Then of course there was “Don’t Speak,” the hit that got me through all my junior high heartbreaks. And like most fans, I pondered if it was right-or even possible-for her to break out with a pop-dance-electronica album and not become the laughingstock of the music world. And so when Stefani said No Doubt would be reuniting to write what she promised to be “another amazing album,” the crowd rejoiced.

But when Stefani also announced that Saturday night was her last solo tour date and “the end of my transitional dance music phase,” confessing, “I want to cry. I don’t know how to be tonight. I’m happy, I’m sad, I’m tired. I can’t believe this is over,” a note of sympathy arose from the crowd. While it’s been short-lived, and not necessarily groundbreaking, Gwen’s solo stardom and one-woman shows have definitely been entertaining, from the booty-shaking “Rich Girl” to the broken-hearted sing-along fun of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

I should probably be embarrassed to admit that I have managed to memorize everything sung by a scantily clad female who forced four Japanese breakdancers to rename themselves in honor of her clothing line. But when I “wooo-ooo:eeee-oooh!”-ed along with five thousand other fans last weekend, my inner girlie-girl reveled in being there for Gwen Stefani’s last sweet escape


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