Concert review and photos: Gwen Stefani brings sass and sweetness to Atlanta show

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Gwen Stefani brough sass and sweetness to her show. Photo: BRANDEN CAMP/SPECIAL
Gwen Stefani brough sass and sweetness to her show. Photo: BRANDEN CAMP/SPECIAL

Gwen Stefani brough sass and sweetness to her show. Photo: BRANDEN CAMP/SPECIAL

It’s clear from hearing Gwen Stefani talk about the breakup of her marriage that she was not only blindsided by Gavin Rossdale, but deeply wounded by his alleged infidelity.

To see – and hear – her so schoolgirl giddy about her current beau as well as recovered from the emotional valley-to-peak ride she took the past year makes you root for her.

That she channeled that heartbreak from Rossdale and subsequent love with Blake Shelton into the finest work of her solo career makes you admire her.

And that she can pull off a bare midriff and tartan pants with cutouts in the legs kinda makes you hate her- but only because we’re totally jealous of her 46-year-old abs.

Stefani’s Friday night stop on her “This is What the Truth Feels Like” tour at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre  was not only one of the bigger crowds on a tour that has, oddly, struggled to move tickets, but a tremendous reminder of her spirited live performances.

There is quite a bit of activity on that stage. Photo: BRANDEN CAMP/SPECIAL

There is quite a bit of activity on that stage. Photo: BRANDEN CAMP/SPECIAL

This was the 10th date of Stefani’s first major live run since 2007, and if she’s able to maintain the level of vigor on display in Alpharetta, she’ll have checked another accomplishment box this year.

Joined by a four-piece band and eight rubbery dancers, Stefani performed in front of a series of angled video screens that projected splashes of color, whirring shapes and quirky animation throughout the show.

With a trio of solo albums to cull from, including the excellent new musical autobiography that gives the tour its name, Stefani cobbled a fan’s dream set list – from the sharp percussive thwacks of “Wind it Up” to the solidly crafted popper “Obsessed” to the high school gym dance sweetness of “Cool” to the dizzying disco valentine to Shelton, “Make Me Like You.”

Her voice was in fine form, fluctuating from a girlish hiccup on the musical midlife crisis “What You Waiting For” to huskier depths on galloping ballad “Rare” (her favorite song on the new album, she said).

Check out our gallery of photos from the concert

Stefani didn’t neglect her history with No Doubt, either – treating longtime fans to the draggy reggae that powers “Underneath it All” as well as the feisty “Hella Good” and sublime cover of Talk Talk’s “It’s My Life” as she glanced back to the past couple of decades.

And yes, she poured her heart into the wrenching “Don’t Speak,” which must seem like a teenage diary entry now compared to her adult life.

Fashion has always been a Stefani hallmark, and she didn’t disappoint with a series of outfits that blended zippered jeans with mesh and sequins – looks that mere mortals cannot pull off, but make Stefani appear even cooler.

Eve added a dash of fire to the show. Photo: BRANDEN CAMP/SPECIAL

Eve added a dash of fire to the show. Photo: BRANDEN CAMP/SPECIAL

Speaking of cool, she was joined by Eve – who opened the show with her own feisty set that included “What Ya Want” and a booty-shaking “Tambourine” – for their joint hits “Let Me Blow Ya Mind” and “Rich Girl” (still the most brilliant modern homage to “Fiddler on the Roof”).

The combination of two fierce women in their respective corners, trading verses and liquid dance moves, elevated an already invigorating concert to another level.

In fact, while the rest of us wilted in the humidity, Stefani was pogoing across the stage like a 20-year-old cheerleader, stomping through “Hollaback Girl” and slinking through “Luxurious.”

If there was a theme to the evening, it was Stefani’s obvious gratitude toward her fans. She frequently noted her appreciation of their support throughout the years and said genuine-sounding things such as, “Imagine my life without you” and “I have to get to know every single person here. This is not the Internet, this is you and me.”

The lovefest she was able to create inside an amphitheater provided one more reason for admiration.

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