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CONCERT REVIEW: Gwen Stefani’s This Is What the Truth Feels Like Tour

Christian Craven
Fertile Ground Compost Service
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OKLAHOMA CITY – When I was five years old, I was watching MTV’s Total Request Live (TRL) when I saw something extraordinary. With her bubblegum-pink hair and pouty lips, I was intoxicated by the sight of Gwen Stefani in the music video for No Doubt’s “Simple Kind of Life.” 

Who was this moody woman with the bizarre clothes and strange voice? Why was she running around in a wedding dress while singing about a failed relationship? For a little boy whose only reference point for women in music were the likes of Britney and Christina, Gwen was an anomaly. She was gritty and raw, emotional and candid.

In other words, I was hooked. I promptly stole my older sister’s wigs and spun around my bedroom wishing I could one day be as kick-ass as Gwen. 

And over 16 years later, that still holds true. So can you imagine my feelings rushing in to the Gexa Energy Pavilion Aug. 13 to see her live for the first time ever? As a part of her “This Is What the Truth Feels Like” tour, Stefani has been promoting her album of the same name after taking nearly a decade off from her solo career.

And while fans may be happy to see her back, it sure didn’t come easily. Given how much her personal life has been plastered over the tabloids in recent months, it’s no secret that her new album is inspired by her recent divorce from Gavin Rossdale and newfound romance with Blake Shelton. “This Is What The Truth Feels Like,” which came out in March, reflects this tumultuous time in her life with songs that touch on heartache and hope in equal doses. 

But Gwen didn’t come here to mope around and drown in her own misery. She came to put on a concert and show her fans what they’ve been missing for nearly 10 years. And while that may seem like a lot to live up to, Gwen delivered on all fronts to put on one of the most exciting and invigorating shows that this reviewer’s ever been to. 

Hip-hop star Eve opened with a fiercely energetic set. Although she’s been out of the spotlight for a while now, the crowd went wild for her tightly choreographed dancing and slick R&B beats. Belting out hits like “Tambourine” and “Who’s That Girl?,” Eve was the perfect appetizer for what was to come. 

When Stefani stepped onstage flanked by a crew of dancers, the screams and applauds from the crowd were deafening. Opening with the thudding “Red Flag,” Stefani strutted around the stage in a plaid crop-top/pants ensemble that only she could ever pull off. With her rippling six-pack and flawless skin, she looks and sounds better at 46 than I do at 21. 

Her connection with the crowd was almost immediate. She regularly called out fans in the crowd, pointing out how much she loved their signs and yelling at them to “get up here right now” so they could take selfies with their beloved Gwen. And while it’s hardly groundbreaking for artists to say how happy they are to be wherever they’re performing, you couldn’t help but believe Gwen when she kept screaming about how great it felt to be “here in the party state” and that “this might be the best show yet.” 

The set list was understandably loaded with a lot of songs from Gwen’s newest album, which is far from a bad thing. While filler tracks like “Asking 4 It” and “Rare” weren’t exactly begging to be seen live, songs like “Misery” and “Make Me Like You” were energetic crowd-pleasers. 

But with no disrespect to Gwen’s stellar new record, there’s no denying that we were here to see her sling out all the hits. And oh did she deliver, taking everyone from ages 14 to 40 down memory lane. 

I forget just how long Gwen has been around and how expansive her discography was. She’d be putting her breathy mezzo-soprano to work on “Cool” before shouting out her iconic “Hollaback Girl.” She brought Eve back out for the one-two punch of “Let Me Blow Ya Mind” and “Rick Girl,” and kept the party going with the underrated “What You Waiting For?”

She even brought back some classic No Doubt tracks to the delight of everyone there. While it was a little strange at first knowing Gwen was performing these songs without the rest of the band in tow, you couldn’t help but get goosebumps when she launched into “Don’t Speak” and “Just A Girl.” 

And just in case all of this wasn’t enough to satisfy the masses, Gwen surprised everyone by bringing out Shelton to perform their country duet “Go Ahead and Break My Heart.” Even if the relationship still doesn’t make a lick of sense, Gwen looked like she was on cloud nine when Shelton walked out. Their long hug at the end also got a collective “aw” out of the crowd. 

Even with such a long gap between tours, Gwen hasn’t lost any of her spark. She’s as playful and raucous now as she was when I was just a kid watching her on TRL. She’s got the showmanship of a pop diva but the grit of a rockstar, all of which came into play during her two-hour set. By showcasing just how sexy, powerful, and innovative Gwen really is, “This Is What the Truth Feels Like” might just be the best tour of the year.

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About the Author

Keaton Bell

Born in Minnesota but raised in Oklahoma, Keaton is a senior at the University of Oklahoma...

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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