No Doubt: Rock Steady Live
September 19, 2002
No Doubt rock the house in their home state of California and take us behind the scenes of their 2003 tour.
Director Sophie Muller teams up with No Doubt for the third time after shooting videos for ‘Don’t Speak’ (Their break-out hit in 1997) and ‘Underneath It All’ for this documentary-cum-live concert. Shot over a couple of weeks during their current Rock Steady tour, as well as the live concert footage, we also get to see the band before and after the performance. The end product may be glamorous, but at the end of the day you realise the band all have a job to do, and are constantly exhausted – although they still find time to get drunk and dress up in bonkers costumes.
The setting is a modest arena in southern California, but every spare inch of the stage is used by the energetic Gwen Stefani as she jogs and skips around like she’s simoultaneously rocking out and making a fitness video. Only The Red Hot Chili Peppers come close to creating the same level of can’t-stand-still-for-a-second energy in their videos and live performances. Stefani inparticular, is in every respect the core of the group. Indeed she’s hard to miss, running around or stopping mid-song to do press-ups and curse explosively into the microphone for no apparent reason.
Being a fan of No Doubt, but not live concerts, I was surprised how enjoyable this was. There’s never a dull moment and they play their backlist of songs with relish, from ‘Hella Good’ to ‘New’ to ‘Just A Girl’. All too often a tour can become stale and merely an excuse to show off and sing badly, but thankfully the guys maintain just the right balance between stage performance and actually making good live music.
Taking this DVD into genuine ‘must own’ territory is the back-stage footage which follows each member of the band during their down-time or performing at friend’s gigs. So while Stefani spends hours putting on make-up to go to what can only be described as a T&A show lavished with celebrity guests like Cameron Diaz and Christina Applegate, drummer Adrian Young takes his infant son golfing and base guitar player Tony Kanal reveals an obsession with all things pirate, and explains his allergies that occur when touring overseas (“Some people say it’s stress,” he ponders regarding his puffy eye, “Some say it’s sleeping with too many girls. I dunno.” Oh you poor man.)
The Mayor of California even presents them with the key to the city, a symbolic honor that pleases both band members and proud parents alike.
Interviews reveal some personal aspects to the group that you may not have known, like Stefani admitting she’s incredibly clumsy and unco-ordinated (perhaps accounting for her energetic bouncing around on stage so she doesn’t have to actually dance) and Young reveals he only started playing drums when he was eighteen.
The before-the-show footage is interesting, showing the other side of the mirror, as it were. The band get nervous, drink, meet fans, drink and have to huddle under the cramped stage Spinal Tap-like until the show actually starts. “What the hell is that?!” Dumont moans when an assistant hands him his guitar. “It’s supposed to be blue, not green! Green represents the forrest. Blue represents the sky, man.”
So overall this is a decent little package, with bonus songs from No Doubt’s early days before their Tragic Kingdom debut, and the choice of 2.0, 5.1 or DTS sound. The only drawback is that the DVD gives a brief glimpse of No Doubt at this point in time and is more of a holiday snap-shot than an in-depth history, so if you’re not familar with the band, you might want to start elsewhere. Otherwise this is a lot of fun.