MTS Centre, Winnipeg - November 16, 2005

ROB WILLIAMS - Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 4:37 AM ET

WINNIPEG - Gwen Stefani has answered the age old question of who wears short shorts.

She wears short shorts. And short skirts, short shirts and short blazers as a packed crowd of 13,500 witnessed last night at the MTS Centre.

The 36-year-old blond bombshell was making her first visit to the city as part of her Harajuku Lovers Tour, a concert high on energy and a showcase of Stefani's considerable fashion sense.

The petite vocalist started her show by emerging from a platform in the centre of a three-tiered lighted stage singing her ode to Tokyo fashion, Harajuku Girls, dressed in a sparkly ruffled baby doll outfit with tiny skirt, white pantyhose and black high heels, giving the impression you could pull a string in her back and make her talk.

She was surrounded by four Japanese dancers: Love, Angel, Music and Baby, conveniently named after her debut solo album Love.Angel.Music.Baby

Next came her breakthrough single What You Waiting For, an upbeat piece of pure pop perfection that ranks as a guilty pleasure.

Stefani left the stage while her five-piece band continued to play so she could change into a diamond encrusted one-piece bathing suit. She kept the heels on though and was surprisingly mobile in them, dancing all over the stage and acknowledging her adoring young female fans.

She disappeared again while shots of her flashed on five video screens. Four b-boys then took the stage for an impressive breakdancing display before Stefani re-emerged in a garish black and white leather track suit.

If you're keeping score at home that's four songs, three costume changes.

Whether they were part of her new L.A.M.B. clothing line it was hard to tell, but most were definitely unsuitable for a Winnipeg winter.

Stefani came to prominence in the music world as frontwoman of the ska-rock group No Doubt but refrained from delving into the band's catalogue, sticking strictly to her solo material. With only one album, the well isn't deep, and she could have thrown in a song or two from the band and avoided some of the filler.

But sometimes the music didn't matter when there was as much eye candy as Stefani provided. She is an extremely striking figure and the choreography, light show, backup dancers and frequent costume changes all added to the spectacle, which ended up being more style than substance.

"I just wanted to make a record. I didn't want to tour, I was too tired, then you guys kept buying the record, and I had to come out and see you guys," she said before launching into the single Luxurious, a rolling number about living the good life, followed by another one about having loads of cash, Rich Girl. Must be nice.

At press time an hour into the show she had performed three of the four singles off her album, with Hollaback Girl expected in the encore.

Before Stefani's eye-popping show, M.I.A. and a backup vocalist got the crowd warmed up with 40-minutes of genre-splicing hip-hop, reggae, funk and dancehall from her debut album Arular.


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