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Concert Reviews:
Gwen Stefani delivers Blake Shelton surprise and more at DTE

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Wednesday, August 3, 2016

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INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- Because she was in her father's home town, Gwen Stefani told the crowd at the DTE Energy Music Theatre on Tuesday night, Aug. 2, that, "I feel like this needs to be one of the best nights of my life."

Another man in her life was responsible for that, however.

Stefani was about two-thirds of the way through her hour-and-50-minute, 26-song This Is What The Truth Feels Like Tour stop when she declared, "It's a different level of special for me tonight." The reason -- boyfriend and country superstar Blake Shelton -- came strolling onstage for a surprise rendition of their hit country duet "Go Ahead and Break My Heart." There were smiles all around the stage -- including Stefani's four band members -- and a sea of cell phone cameras in the crowd, and the couple finished with a warm embrace before Shelton strode off to let Stefani finish her show.

That certainly took the night to the "next level" Stefani promised, more than a few times, to the mostly female and family-populated crowd. But truth be told it would have been a winning performance even without the Shelton cameo.

Stefani may not have the hottest pop diva show on the road this time around, as the half-filled DTE attested, but you'd be hard-pressed to find one more engaging, entertaining, fun and generous than what she delivered on Tuesday night. It had all the requisite trappings -- including eight dancers, outfit changes (though a comparatively modest four) and an inventive, angular, five-piece screen system that showed mostly prepared video material -- but with a relatively unpretentious, earthy feel, as if Stefani, even at an advanced (by pop standards) age of 46, was hosting a large-scale pajama party rather than a concert spectacle.

She intoned her family's local roots early on, declaring to the crowd that "my dad's from Eight Mile, Detroit) and later talking about picturing him traveling to Lake Michigan when he lived here. "I feel like I'm connected to you -- 'cause I am," Stefani said. And she had plenty to connect with, loading the set with hits from her four solo albums as well as No Doubt favorites, including a pumping "Hella Good," an emotive "Don't Speak" and an encore romp through "I'm Just a Girl" that turned the entirety of DTE into a summer night dance party.

Stefani and opening act Eve also dipped into their shared past for rocking renditions of "Let Me Blow Ya Mind" and "Rich Girl," and the whopping 10 tracks from the "This Is What The Truth Feels Like" album fared well next to the other material -- particularly "Misery" and the vibey "Rare" -- but, they were ultimately eclipsed by the likes of "Harajuku Girls," "Hollaback Girl" and "The Sweet Escape," the kind of definitive pop anthems that were what the crowd came for in the first place.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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