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Gwen Stefani: Rockin’ Las Vegas With A Show Chronicling Her Life

Gwen Stefani

Gwen Stefani. Photo by Yu Tsai.

Gwen Stefani didn’t exactly find music. Music found her. Describing her childhood growing up in Anaheim, California, she recalls going to bluegrass festivals and hearing folk music playing in the house. But it wasn’t until her early teens that she developed a real ear, and love, of music.

As the dominoes fell, it was the singing and storytelling of The Sound of Music, the sexy brashness of Blondie’s Debbie Harry, and a push from her older brother Eric (who formed the band No Doubt and enlisted her to sing), that propelled her into music.

“I never really dreamed of being a singer as a kid,” Stefani admits. “I was trying to figure out who I was.”

You can credit Debbie Harry for raising her curiosity. Stefani even covers the Blondie hit “The Tide is High” in her Las Vegas show. “She was everywhere,” Stefani recalls. “She was just one of those people ahead of her time. She was so dope, so beautiful, so talented. She was everything you hoped you could be. And she was rapping. I was like, ‘What?’ She was a really big influence.”

As for sampling the yodeling from The Sound of Music on “Wind It Up,” it was a tougher sell to co-writer Pharrell Williams. She debuted the mashup on a runway for her L.A.M.B. fashion line. “It was my dream to have that sampled in one of my songs,” Stefani says. “Pharrell was like, ‘No way!’

He didn’t like it. He couldn’t relate, but he let me keep it.”

The global icon returns to Zappos Theater at
Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino
in Las Vegas this winter.2018
DECEMBER: 27, 29, 30, 312019
MARCH: 1, 2, 6, 8, 9, 13, 15, 16

Tickets can be purchased online at
or in person at the Zappos Theater box office.

Stefani’s decision to star in Las Vegas was one of opportunity. Prior to her “Truth” tour in 2016, she took seven years off to raise her three sons. Living in Los Angeles, it’s an easy commute to fly in for her “Just A Girl” residency at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino. It’s what drew her back to the stage.

“How do I continue to perform, but not go on tour?” she asks herself. “Once I had kids and they started school, I couldn’t take them out. The only time to tour was in the summer, and it’s unfair to them, so I stopped. I feel like I don’t have to do it anymore, but once I get up there I’m like, ‘This is me. This is what I do.’ It’s a way to be both a parent and still perform.”


“The energy is different in Vegas,” Stefani says. “For me, it was how do I boil everything down into a show that is going to tell my story.”

And for those who don’t think it’s physical performing, it is. Stefani admits it was one of her biggest challenges. “It’s the hardest show I’ve ever done. The stage is so big. It’s like being an athlete. There is no way to cheat it. You have to go full-blown every night,” she says, minutes after completing her morning cardio. “It’s like a marathon, but it’s so rewarding. I’m in the best shape I’ve been in for so long. It feels so good.”


NO DOUBT (1992)





Stefani prides herself on being a songwriter. It was, after all, why she got into music in the first place. It was her way of expressing herself. It was how she got through the awkwardness of adolescence. So naturally, her lyrics directly relate to her life. She even addresses it during a costume change in her show saying, “Songwriting is what helped me get my identity and my confidence, and helped me to think I have any value at all in this world. Being able to write my feelings in songs shocked me. I didn’t know I had that in me.”

Her 25-song, five-costume change “Just A Girl” residency at Planet’s Zappos Theater is basically the Stefani story—the soundtrack of her heartfelt journey from the groves of Orange County to the neon of Las Vegas. From loves found to loves lost, Stefani has held little back. “Every song has captured a moment in my life—the good, and the bad. The songs are little snapshots of those time periods.”

Gwen Stefani

Gwen Stefani performs at the Zappos Theater in Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino. Show photos courtesy of Todd Stefani/Bruiser Pictures And Robb Dipple/Ehmerican Multimedia.

Many of her songs, (“Don’t Speak,” “Sunday Morning,” “Underneath it All” and “I Used to Love You”), chronicle the ups-and-downs of her rocky relationships. It’s a subject she addresses during her show.

“My own love life experience wasn’t what I thought it would be. And I feel like I had so much love to give inside me. But I was unlucky in love, which has been a blessing because I’ve been able to write about that, and share that, and have this incredibly blessed musical career,” she says. “When I look back at all the times my heart was broken it was always music that healed me.”

Asked whether performing these songs ever bring back those memories and emotions, Stefani answers. “We can all remember hearing a Madonna song and slow dancing,” she says with a laugh. “Music takes you right back to the very moment when you were listening to it. Now, imagine if it’s your own life,” she says. “I think, ‘How was that girl the same girl who is here right now?’ That’s why it’s emotional and draining every night. Yet, it’s therapeutic in a great way.”

Perhaps the most meaningful of all her songs is the one she chose for the title of her Las Vegas show. “It wasn’t until writing ‘Just A Girl’ that I realized that the way I felt was the way that a lot of people felt,” Stefani explains.

“When you’re a young girl growing up in this world you don’t necessarily think about your gender. Then during adolescence, you realize the power you have. Not only your strength, but your vulnerability. I am prey. That’s just a weird realization. A lot of girls go through it, but we don’t talk about it. It was never meant to be a feminine song. It didn’t come from a place of empowerment. It’s weird that after all these years the song didn’t go out of style. In fact, the song has more meaning now.”


About The Author

Ryan Slattery grew up in Boston. It wasn’t until he moved to Las Vegas in 2003 that the city’s sports teams started winning championships—eight since he left. Now, he’s only allowed back to visit. Ryan is the managing editor of Vegas Player magazine and also writes about travel, entertainment and dining for a number of national publications.

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