Gwen Stefani (yes, I know, not my usual thing, a return of a longstanding agreement from the last time I dragged my other half to watch Belle & Sebastian or somesuch) is not averse to using the odd bit of popular culture – in the first half hour she’s played songs that piggy-back on Topol and Julie Andrews – so when she tells us she went to the zoo yesterday, I’m immediately thinking a hip-hop mash-up of Julie Felix is on the cards.

Turns out she really had gone to the zoo, held a baby monkey and fed the elephants. She tells the crowd this and is a bit nonplussed that we don’t cheer the zoo (and all the staff she’s invited to concert) loudly. What she doesn’t realise is a lot of us are trying to work out which zoo she’s been to. Dudley Zoo, for a start doesn’t have any elephants.

While she’s off for another costume change, leaving vocal duties to Bowie’s long-time bassist Gail-Ann Dorsey, I’m thinking Drayton Manor? No elephants there either.

While she’s fitting in an incongruous ballad, but refusing to sing anything from No Doubt, I’m thinking Wipsnade? She can’t think that’s in Birmingham.

While she’s rampaging through the audience, scaring the shit out of security (she got right up the back of the arena), running while singing the one that goes “You know we’re cool” that sounds like Belinda Carlile, I’m thinking Chester Zoo? Nah.

While the fibre glass goats (I’m not kiding) are put away and another lacklustre ballad stutters with breakdance interludes, and you start to wish for the return of The Go Go’s (actually I pretty much aways think that), I’m thinking – surely not London Zoo? No elephants I don’t think, and wouldn’t she have invited the keepers to the Wembley Arena gig.

While she encores with What You Waiting For and I remember why for all the GIRL, GIRL, GIRL fake hip-hop posturing and the sad demotion of ska in her affections she’s still a cut above most pop acts, I’m thinking Twycross.

Twycross. It has to be.

5 thoughts on “Gwen Stefani at the NIA

  1. It does, I don’t think Gwen would of mistaken a Safari Park for a Zoo tho’. I know Americans have a shaky grasp of UK geography, but even she would have realised that she was shut in a car with monkeys dismantling her car ariel.

    In American pop-star related midlands zoo news, I bring you a recent quote from a member of Fall Out Boy:

    ‘We like Dudley. Yeah Dudley. They got a zoo there’

  2. The Mail confirms it was Twycross and adds that she stopped off for a pint afterwards at Bassets Pole.

    I too was at this gig (partly in revenge for taking my wife to see Sparklehorse) and thought it was great. I saw Dave Grohl do the running to the back of the auditorium thing at the NEC last year and he didn’t make it look half as dangerous or unrehearsed as Gwen did. Hats off to her!

    However, like you, thinking about the zoo thing occupied my thoughts for the entire rest of the gig. I felt sure it was Twycross as they have way too many monkeys, so many in fact it’s a bit boring. But how did Gwen get all those zoo people sitting together, nearish to the front, with what must have been short notice? Now that’s star power!


  3. I saw Gwen in Brum and was thoroughly dissapointed! The sound quality was atrocious – worse than a bad pub singer night. Now don’t get me wrong – Gwen sang great and with energy but was let down by the engineers!! Strange though the sound was geared perfectly for the bassist Gail-Ann. I’m a fan but sound was unbearable – very tempted to walk out after first two songs but stuck with it only to find things did not improve. I think she’s a great singer but the show did not pull it off. Much of the show seemed to have little to do with the songs and all bit gimmicky etc. What a shame. Highlight was indeed the running round the auditorium and climbing over railings etc. Nearly the whole way round! Fab! Gimmick done by many these days and obvioulsy preplanned…to a degree…Security certainly never expected her to dash off all the way to the top and round the back. Go girl go! Qute a spectacle!! Fan off the songs and the woman but perhaps won’t go to another concert. Shame.

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