“It’s the first night — it’s going to be an epic night tonight!” shouted singer-songwriter Gwen Stefani, to her enthusiastic fans, aka Lambs, during the June 27 kick-off to her residency, Gwen Stefani: Just a Girl, at Zappos Theater in Planet Hollywood on the Las Vegas Strip.
After Spiderwebs a little later in the show, Fullerton-born and three-time Grammy Award winner Stefani continued, “This is Las Vegas — this is next level!” On grand opening night, Stefani and her crew of musicians, dancers and backup singers did everything in their power to make Just a Girl next level, and they succeeded.
When broken down, the newest celebrity music show to hit the Vegas Strip is best detailed in three categories — show, costumes and setlist.
Stefani, 48, sounded and looked great from start to finish, and she remained high-energy and engaged during her nearly two-hour show, disappearing for only a few minutes at a time for costume changes. The sets and lights are colorful and lively, and Just a Girl is a mostly upbeat affair, with slower-tempo songs — Simple Kind of Life, Used to Love You, Misery and Don’t Speak — taking over for a respite two-thirds into the production.
There were several fun highlights on grand opening night: After Sunday Morning, Stefani welcomed onstage from the front area of Zappos Theater a lesbian couple who were wearing the T-shirts “She’s My Gwen” and “She’s My Blake.” Before Cool, she brought three little Lambs, errr, girls onstage, hugged them, lauded them for their Harajuku outfits from Target, and posed with them for a photo. And theater ushers danced to Stefani’s songs throughout the show.
American fashion designer Jeremy Scott created many of Stefani’s costumes, which were in his signature creative, whimsical, colorful, sparkling and bedazzled style, via Custom Moschino. The show also featured fabulous creations by Versace, Marchesa Couture and The Blondes.
With Stefani being a fashion icon and entrepreneur (L.A.M.B., Harajuku Lovers), and her signature look — bleach blonde with bright red lips — being a throwback to Old Hollywood glamor, it was only fitting that Just a Girl launched with Hollaback Girl, a stage overrun by Old Las Vegas showgirls, with large feathers galore, and larger-than-life bananas, b-a-n-a-n-a-s.
Near the end of the opening night show and after performing the song Just a Girl, Stefani thanked Scott, as well as her boyfriend, country singer-songwriter Blake Shelton (get the earlier T-shirt reference now?), who was seated at a front-and-center VIP table at the end of the catwalk where he sang and danced along to Stefani’s many hits from her days with No Doubt and as a solo artist. Stefani was wearing a sparkling and bedazzled cowgirl costume when she exclaimed she was performing in a dream performance for her beau.
Here is the 25-song setlist from Stefani’s grand opening night, which is likely to change during the course of her Just a Girl residency.
Baby Don’t Lie
It’s My Life (which included a video of images of a young Stefani, who resembled Alicia Silverstone)
Underneath It All
The Tide Is High (Blondie cover)
Harajuku Girls (complete with catwalk)
Wind It Up
Umbrella (Rihanna cover)
What You Waiting For?
Simple Kind of Life
Used to Love You
Don’t Speak (during which Stefani is on a raised stage, and confetti erupts for the first time)
Make Me Like You
Just a Girl
The Sweet Escape
The grand opening night audience also included Raiders owner Mark Davis, Marc-Andre Fleury and Deryk Engelland of the Vegas Golden Knights, Extra TV host Mario Lopez, and America’s Got Talent champion magician Mat Franco, who headlines at The Linq Hotel in Las Vegas.
Stefani’s Just a Girl was announced April 10, and she was officially welcomed to the Las Vegas Strip with a ceremony outside Planet Hollywood three days later. She joins Jennifer Lopez, Pitbull, The Backstreet Boys and Lionel Richie as Zappos Theater headliners, and her shows have been announced through March 16, 2019.
Gwen Stefani: I’m Just a Girl
When: July 3, 6-7, 11, 13-14, 18, 20-21; Dec. 27, 29-31; Feb. 27, 2019 and March 1-2, 6, 8-9, 13, 15-16, 2019
Where: 3667 S. Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas
Cost: $60-250 with VIP packages available
More info: 855.234.7469, caesars.com/planet-hollywood/shows/gwen-stefani
Don Chareunsy is based in Las Vegas, where he has worked as an arts and entertainment editor and reporter since 2008. Before moving to The Entertainment Capital of the World a decade ago, he worked at The San Diego Union-Tribune from 2002-2007.