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No Doubt - Live in the Tragic Kingdom

Other // Unrated // June 13, 2006
List Price: $14.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Louis Howard | posted August 22, 2006 | E-mail the Author
Formed in 1987 as a ska band, No Doubt originally began its life with the lineup of Gwen Stefani, her brother Eric, and John Spence, picking up member Tony Kanal along the way while doing the party band circuit. When Spence committed suicide in December of that year, Gwen became the sole lead vocalist and the band added guitarist Tom Dermott and drummer Adrian Young to the band. They gelled and began to pick up regional interest, signing with Interscope in 1991. Their first release, an album of ska and pop, bombed in the marketplace- causing Interscope to refuse supporting their future recordings or tours. Undaunted, the band recorded their own new release in 1994; at this time Eric Stefani left the group, going on to work as an animator for "The Simpsons". As this new album was rawer and more accessible to the masses, Interscope relented and "Tragic Kingdom" was released in October 1995. Due in part to constant touring and the appearance of the "Just A Girl" and "Spiderwebs" videos on MTV, this release made the Top Ten in 1996. By the end of the year "Tragic Kingdom" made it to number one on the album charts, and a third single was pulled off the CD, "Don't Speak" which became their biggest success to date. Their followup recording, "The Return Of Saturn" was released in 2000, and became a mainstream and critical success due to the songs "Simple Kind Of Life" and "Ex-girlfriend".

Stefani, whose voice and glamorous persona are obviously the centerpiece of this unit, released a single with Rap artist Eve, "Let Me Blow Your Mind" which won a Grammy in 2002 for best Rap/Sung Collaboration. One more No Doubt release came, "Rock Steady" after which the band took a break- presumably so Stefani could further pursue her thriving solo career. She collaborated with all manner of artists at this point, the result being the solo release "Love.Angel.Music.Baby". A slick, dance oriented and club influenced album that largely forgoes the No Doubt sound, it quickly found an audience with the song "What You Waiting For?" dominating the MTV airwaves. Introducing her interest in the Harajuku Girls of Japan, the singles "Rich Girl" and "Hollaback Girl" became successes as well- the latter being the first U.S. digital single to exceed sales of one million. Not content with her fame in music, Stefani also played Jean Harlow in Martin Scorsese's "The Aviator" and introduced her own clothing line. At present No Doubt is recording a new album, expected to be released sometime in 2007.

"Live In The Tragic Kingdom" is a live No Doubt concert filmed in Anaheim, California in the spring of 1997 as the band toured in support of their breakthrough "Tragic Kingdom" album. Finally making its way to the market as a single DVD, this recording includes a number of extras not available when this show was originally released in VHS format in November 1997.

Listed here is the concert set list-

"Tragic Kingdom"
"Excuse Me Mr."
"Different People"
"Happy Now?"
"D.J.'s" (Sublime cover song)
"End It On This"
"Just A Girl"
"The Climb"
"Total Hate"
"Hey You"
"The Imperial March" (from Star Wars Episode V)
"Move On"
"Don't Speak"
"Sunday Morning"
"Spiderwebs"
"Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" (Beatles cover tune)


Admittedly I was someone uninitiated in the music of No Doubt, having only heard "Tragic Kingdom" upon its release and not much of their material since. Their music is a vibrant mix of a number of styles, reggae, ska, hip-hop, Latino, hard rock, all the while staying tuneful and quite listenable. Watching this show two words immediately come to mind- energetic and colorful.

This unit plays their music with a vengeance from the first number on. The band is mostly attired in sharp eclectic suits, with frontwoman Gwen Stefani coming on with a campy, charismatic stage presence as well as resemblance akin to a younger Madonna. Stefani is in great physical condition; looking both feminine yet athletic enough to pull off wearing black sweatpants and red sports bra she barnstorms the stage, staying in nearly constant motion and keeping the audience in the palm of her hand throughout the concert. With a voice strong, rich and silky, Stefani sounds alot like a revved-up Martha Davis (of The Motels fame) from a number of years back. It isn't any wonder that her career is continuing to blossom and build on the strength of the band's harder edged, well crafted music on display here. While the band behind her is indeed a fine one it isn't any secret as to who's stage this actually is, or why she has ventured out into solo endeavors. While I get the feeling that No Doubt may not be around as a band much longer because of this, its good to know that they are recording new material and that older stuff such as this is available for fans to enjoy.

Video-

Aspect ration here is 1.33:1 fullscreen. The colors are bright, lush and seem to be very accurate; blacks are solid and sharpness is good. This recording has made a very nice transition to DVD.

Audio-

Available audio tracks are Dolby Digital 5.1 as well as Dolby Digital stereo. While I did feel they could be a bit louder, both are very listenable with a decent degree of separation and depth.

Extras-

On the Road to the Tragic Kingdom-A collection of home movies dated from 1992 to 1997

Three songs from a concert in Den Haag, The Netherlands, during the Tragic Kingdom tour ("Different People", "Don't Speak", and "Hey You")

An alternate version of "Don't Speak"

Photo gallery

Also included are three easter eggs-

Accessible from the main menu by highlighting "Audio Set-Up" and pressing left.
Accessible by going to the Song Selector menu, highlighting "Main" and pressing left.
Accessible by going to the Special Features menu, selecting "Play All Special Features" and going to Chapter 7.

Final Thoughts-

A bit of a gem and I'm sure a long awaited DVD release for their fans, No Doubt definitely shines in this performance. While Stefani is making an ever bigger name for herself as a solo act, her music with No Doubt is diverse, tuneful and alot of fun to both listen to as well as watch live in concert. Recommended.
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