No Doubt

Rock Steady Live [DVD]

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It's doubtful many of their fans will care, but aside from the hyperkinetic visuals, there is little about this No Doubt concert that is actually live. Apart from some seemingly impromptu chatting, Gwen Stefani's vocals are so heavily and consistently overdubbed that she might as well have not been holding a microphone. There was certainly live music being played at the original concerts recorded for this DVD at a sold-out hometown stop during their 2003 Rock Steady tour, but by the time the music made it to this heavily edited disc, it was all but obliterated with post-concert sweetening. The 5.1 mix is clear and well defined, but it's immediately evident to anyone who has heard truly live, professionally produced concert recordings that this sound is radically doctored to the extent that it is nothing like what the crowd at the venue heard. It is what they saw, though, so if you can stand nearly two hours of breathlessly nervous MTV-style editing where the camera refuses to lock on any performer for more than a few seconds, this is a faithful visual representation of the band's high-energy attack. Stefani alone is a whirlwind of activity, strutting, preening, pouting, and prancing her way through an exhausting few hours that, without the sound editing, would find her huffing and puffing lyrics rather than singing them. The 17-song set list covers the group's entire career, with all of the singles present and accounted for. Two additional musician/dancer/backing vocalists augment the quartet and add even more commotion to the already frantic proceedings. Over an hour and a half of interview, backstage, and pre/post-show footage -- including a very hung-over band receiving ceremonial keys to the city of their hometown Anaheim -- is for the hardcore only. It does illustrate how unglamorous the rock star life is, as viewers follow the members shuffling through their non-spotlight hours generally looking bored and uninspired as they plaster on forced smiles for endless meet-and-greets. Four additional songs, including "Trapped in a Box" and "Total Hate," both coming from the group's earliest days, are available as bonus tracks, probably because they weren't played on many other dates of this tour.

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