SETTING THE SCENE: Gwen Stefani fans and promoters stroll near her tour bus Saturday at the Pond in Anaheim.
DANIEL A. ANDERSON, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
Gwen Stefani: A star comes home
Gwen Stefani of Anaheim has taken the music universe by storm. Her adoring fans couldn't wait to welcome her back at the Pond.
ANAHEIM - Cara Worden wore a shirt that said "Love" with a capital L.
Hanna Stetson wore a shirt that read "Angel." Erica Van Skike wore "Music," and Sydney Weedon wore "Baby." Together, the 12-year-old girls from Tustin spelled out the title of rocker Gwen Stefani's solo album: "Love. Angel. Music. Baby."
"We're obsessed with Gwen Stefani. We love her," said Worden, who attended the Stefani concert Saturday night at the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim with her friends. "She's different. She doesn't care what anybody else thinks about her.
"We're, like, so excited. This is where she's from. She's coming back to where she's from."
Indeed, the lead singer of Anaheim ska-rock band No Doubt did return home for the first headlining performance on her own here Saturday night. Stefani, 36, has launched an extremely successful career as a solo artist, and the legions of fans who attended the sold-out show at the Pond were proof of her popularity.
"I just love her, I love everything about her," said Kashmir Kaiser, 23, of Anaheim. "I love watching her dance. I wish I had that much energy. Whenever I see her on a magazine cover, I want it. I have to have it."
Kaiser's friend Alicia Tucker said she remembers when No Doubt used to play at Cal State Fullerton when they were students.
"It's awesome to see her home," said Tucker, 24, of Anaheim. "It's a huge deal, with all her friends and family here. I used to see her aunt and uncle eat dinner on the corner. I saw her shoot a music video in Anaheim. It's a little weird she's here without the band. This is all new. But I don't think she's any less on her own."
Stefani's fans - the majority of them female - wore T-shirts with her face and logos on them. They carried L.A.M.B. purses from her clothing line, and wore L.A.M.B. sneakers that cost between $120 and $150 a pair.
"Gwen Stefani could make Band-Aids and I'd buy them," said Kim Vu, 19, of Garden Grove.
"She's awesome," said Raquel Valenzuela, 18, of Los Angeles. "She's talented, beautiful, gorgeous, sexy. I've seen her twice."
Though Stefani's solo album was released a year ago, she's still maintaining a high level of popularity and acclaim. Last week, she won an American Music Award for favorite female artist. She was nominated this month for a People's Choice Award, and her single "Hollaback Girl" recently made history as the first song ever to be commercially downloaded 1 million times.
While most Arrowhead Pond fans seemed to be coming from Orange and Los Angeles counties, some drove in from Palmdale and cities farther away. One group flew in from Australia.
"She's huge in Australia," said Erin Gorton, 22, of Brisbane. "When (No Doubt) came for their 'Rock Steady' tour, they sold out every show."
A few folks said they preferred when Stefani was singing for No Doubt. But they were in the minority.
It was the hometown fans who were the most proud of Stefani and her return to Orange County.
"She's very down-to-earth, honest, and she's from O.C.," said Cinthia Garcia, 20, of Costa Mesa. "She's a great role model for kids. She hasn't been in the media in a bad way. She's a good girl."
Stefani and opener M.I.A. will perform again at the Pond at 7:30 p.m. Monday.
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