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No Doubt bests Blink-182 this evening anyway

Tweeter Center, Mansfield, Mass., June 8, 2004

By Jeffrey B. Remz

MANSFIELD, MA - No Doubt and Blink-182 have several similarities. Both are veteran bands sprouting out of the Southern California scene. And both managed to maintain longevity in a business not given to such.

The two now teamed together for a co-headlining tour with No Doubt having the upper hand on this, only the fifth night of the tour.

No Doubt always seemingly has been about focal point and lead singer Gwen Stefani. Once again, the group came off more like Gwen Stefani and band than a full-fledged unit.

Stefani sings very well whether dance numbers, reggae, ska or ballads. She doesn't need to go into high gear either on the fast-paced dance songs to make that clear. One of the best songs of their 75-minute set was when Stefani was with guitarist Tom Dumont on acoustic guitar for most of "Running" until the rest of the group kicked in.

Actually the start of No Doubt's stretch indicated that maybe this was gong to be an off night as it took awhile for the sound to kick in and No Doubt to get its bearings after opening with "Just a Girl," "Excuse Me Mr." And "Ex-Girlfriend."

Drummer Adrian Young keeps a very steady beat behind the skins and Dumont and bassist Tony Kanal do their part as well, although they seemed decidedly laid back throughout. Touring members Stephen Bradley on keyboards and trumpet and Gabriel McNair on keyboards and trombone provided a lot of spark.

The staging, particularly with very fine use of lightbulbs going on and off on a backing wall behind the band, added to the enjoyment, often by creating a sense of movement and energy, spurring the music.

Stefani is in great shape - she jumps and runs around as well, giving a high kick without being too stagy. Closing with their recent hit, a remake of Talk Talk's "It's My Life" and "Spiderwebs" put the concert into ultra high gear with a rousing lively finish.

Blink-182 heretofore has been considered a jokey band. Cartoonish. That was until their self-titled album of last fall where they cut out the humorous aspect for a more serious set of songs to good effect.

And the trio - bassist Mark Hoppus, guitarist Tom DeLonge and drummer Travis Barker - played a good chunk of songs from the album, starting with their hit "Feeling This."

The material holds up well in concert with a mix of punky and rock songs part of Blink's musical pallet.

The mainstay of the group clearly is the mohawked, heavily tattooed Barker. Playing with a broken right foot, Barker sets the beat time and again being the driving force behind the music. He does not needlessly pound away, however, adding the right frills as well.

Near the end of the 75-minute set, Barker was raced via wheelchair to a drum kit next to the soundboard in the middle of the pavilion to pound away while the drum set rotated. One could easily have argued that Barker didn't need a solo - he showed his abilities time and again earlier.

However, Barker's mates leave a bit something to be desired. Neither is a particularly gifted vocalist - DeLonge is whiny.

But most importantly is that while the new disc shows growth, the stage comments were almost exclusively juvenile at best.

For example, after Hoppus said the evening's crowd was better than New Jersey and other places (standard fare, of course), DeLonge chimed after not much in particular, "I make no sense. I'm stupid." Truer words may never have been spoken.

However, Hoppus deserves credit for turning what could have been something boring into something funny. He talked about the good old days when fans used to light lighters and hold them lighting up the sky. Hoppus said they have now been replaced by cell phones emitting a blue light which fans quickly proved Hoppus true. And it looked good too.

It's too bad some of the antics from Blink-182 detract from the music, which can more than hold its own even if it would have been hard to top No Doubt on this evening.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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