Tuesday, October 23, 2007Shame on me!
It's almost three months since I last wrote here. Shameful. It's been a long three months and seems a whole world away since I was strolling the streets of downtown Manhattan, riding the L and looking up at tall buildings. I started temping at the Ministry of Justice almost as soon as I got back - the work was menial and the hours were long. My search for a graduate job was a job in itself and I would spend every evening investing in application forms. It was all going nowhere until I was invited for two interviews; one in Brussels and one in London. I did a lot of soul searching about what I wanted out of a job and my life and ended up getting the job in London before the European Parliament interview, and decided to deliberately screw up Brussels.
But now I'm mostly happy and definitely employed. And I have my evenings free and I can think about blogging again. I've been to a fair few sublime gigs this summer and I want to give them all a mention. But I'll start with the one where I took the best pictures:
Oh hi, Gwen.
I loved No Doubt more than any band ever. My teenage bedroom's walls were plastered floor to ceiling in No Doubt posters, vinyls, merchandise and homemade shrinage. At the time they were the least cool band imaginable. Their follow up to Tragic Kingdom, Return of Saturn, bombed critically and commercially and Gwen's pink hair and braces left her at the mercy of the gutter press. When Rock Steady came out people started paying attention again and the band played their first UK shows in five years. I skipped school and got the train down to London to see them a fair few times that year. And now, five years on from then, Gwen played two nights at Wembley Arena as a solo artist.
The whole thing reminded me exactly why I love Gwen Stefani (and all the related shit she puts out). Even if what she sings is a little bit silly and her constant self-branding is a little bit painful, she means and believes EVERYTHING. There was a moment at the concert when she was singing Hollaback Girl and she looked almost ready to cry at the line 'few times I been around the track...cos I ain't no hollaback girl'. Even though it seems totally nonsensical and the idea behind it might be lost in translation, Gwen still feels it when she has sung it hundreds and hundreds of times. Her voice carries with it so much emotion and expression that she just transforms a disposable pop song into something more sophisticated. And what could be more sophisticated than emotion?
Well, the visual elements of the show were certainly sophisticated - her Harajuku Girl dancers had just about as many outfit changes as the lady herself and their routines were very creatively interpretative of the lyrics and the themes of her songs. The stage set up was equally themed - from the Gwen styled wall paper to the gold cage that became a safe that became an oven, out of which she bursts with a burst of flour for the food themed Yummy:
She prove that she's no squeamish pop tart by running around the arena, clambering over people, sitting on fan's laps, trying on pink fluffy cowboy hats. And getting sweaty and telling everyone about it. This is her edge on all the other production line popstrels - she's totally human and she doesn't pretend otherwise. But at the same time she's superhuman, cavorting around in leopard print catsuits and inexplicable heels. Oh and she is 38 years old. The age and social strata range of the crowd reflected her universal appeal - for many of the middle-aged suburban women grinding away in aforementioned pink fluffy cowboy hats she is proof that having kids and nearing big old horrible 40 doesn't mean you have to pack in your exuberance and vitality. She did tell that a No Doubt album was on its way and that made me very excited. It will be 7 years since their last studio album came out. Things have changed a lot since then - what will they sound like in 2008?