Don't Speak

At a Gwen Stefani show, you are not a citizen of the world but the subject of a commanding cultural empress whose red-lipped orders are your new desires. This is because on stage, Stefani exists in a hugely successful, colorful, and fun Gwen Nation. Not for Stefani is the unrestricted private life of her Top 40 counterparts — she doesn't openly plot, sweat, or suffer the way her peers do, nor does she criticize the competition. She tamed Gavin Rossdale and made a baby with him, both enormous personal challenges that went on without so much as a complaining, publicity-friendly cover story. Her high-profile venture into the flooded fashion market proved to be a viable business move. Her solo albums haven't just matched the success of No Doubt but lapped it. There's no question that Stefani is a serious creative force, one who seems endlessly inspired by her own trajectory from Orange County naïf to the bleached Queen Bee of the music industry. This is not a woman whose music serves as a platform for merchandising; she's a pop star who also happens to be a musician. For the moment, at least, it's Gwen Stefani's world. We're just living in it.

Gwen Stefani performs Wednesday, May 9, at Sound Advice Amphitheatre, 601-7 Sansbury's Way, West Palm Beach. Akon and Lady Sovereign are also on the bill. Tickets cost $10 to $69.50, and the show starts at 7:30 pm. Visit

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