By Kayleigh Hughes, special to the American-Statesman
Whatever blood rituals Gwen Stefani performs to stay sounding and looking as incredible as she does, I can confirm after her Tuesday night performance at Austin360 Amphitheater that they’re working. I think I saw God in her abs.
No amount of rain could dampen the spirits of the crowd who showed up, despite flood warnings, to see the talented Stefani and her opener Eve. The audience was particularly fun, with people of all ages rocking red lips, cool stripes, and other inspiring outfits in homage to Stefani’s many style phases.
It’s easy to overlook just how much success she’s had as a solo artist since she branched out from No Doubt over 12 years ago, but her bright, playful set was an easy reminder. Stefani’s voice, notable for its range, delivered delicious pop hooks and expressions of gratitude to the fans for showing up to support her. Stefani made no secret of having had an exhausting year and appeared genuinely delighted—and perhaps galvanized—by the act of performing, dancing across the stage and taking at least four selfies with awestruck fans.
The spectres of Stefani’s ex-husband, Gavin Rossdale, and her new partner, Blake Shelton, could be felt in songs such as “Red Flag,” “Used to Love You” and “Where Would I Be?” off “This Is What The Truth Feels Like.” These were some of the most emotionally raw performances of the show, but they couldn’t match the strength and superstar impact of addictive hits such as “What You Waiting For?,” “Cool” and “Wind It Up.”
Eve, who delivered a super tight and impressive opening performance, joined Stefani for crowd-favorites “Rich Girl” and Eve’s “Let Me Blow Ya Mind,” and Stefani’s backing band—complete with trumpet—provided intense rock musicianship throughout, with arrangements that evoked Phil Collins in his solo heydey.
A jubilant pre-encore performance of Stefani’s biggest solo hit, “Hollaback Girl,” had the entire venue chanting about bananas in unison. And the highlight of the night came in the encore: a crashing and cathartic rendition of No Doubt’s “Just a Girl,” which retains its relevance today.