Strutting in black, sparkly combat boots to the beat of “The Sweet Escape” with her signature, platinum blond high ponytail, Gwen Stefani kicked off a show of her greatest hits to thousands of fans at Iowa Speedway in Newton.
Stefani — who got her start in the early ’90s as the lead singer for the band No Doubt before embarking on a solo career — warmed up the crowd with No Doubt hits “Sunday Morning,” “Underneath It All,” and “Bathwater. ”
Performing at 12:10 pm on Sunday afternoon ahead of the Hy-Vee Salute to Farmers 300 Presented By Google, part of the Hy-Vee IndyCar Race Weekend, Stefani talked directly to the crowd, urging fans to jump around and complimenting fans who dressed up like her.
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“I love you guys, I love you,” Stefani cheerfully yelled.
Flanked by her band and six backup dancers, Stefani crooned “It’s My Life” and “Rich Girl” before teasing the crowd’s demeanor.
“I like you,” Stefani shouted. “A little awkward at first, I admit, but you’re getting better. You guys are so cute.”
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Stefani’s last stop in Iowa was during a surprise appearance at last year’s Iowa State Fair, performing with her husband, country music star and “The Voice” coach Blake Shelton, whose show goes on after the race on Sunday night.
The couple celebrated their first wedding anniversary on July 3 this year.
“Some of these songs are actually painful for me to sing, revisiting the horrors of my love life,” Stefani confessed before performing “Ex-Girlfriend.” “I hate this song.”
Addressing fans in the stands awaiting the IndyCar race, Stefani asked the crowds to get out of their seats to jump around and enjoy the music.
Stefani neared the end of her hour-long set with “Don’t Speak,” “Hey Baby” and “Spiderwebs” before tossing a shirt on her face for a bit of relief from the 80-degree heat on the speedway.
“I feel like this is going to be my first tan in 20 years,” Stefani said earlier in the set. “You guys are witnessing it right now. I don’t like suntans very much, so you’re welcome.”
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Stefani’s second to last song was “I’m Just a Girl,” a song she said she wrote at her parent’s house when she “didn’t know who she was.”
“It’s just what I felt and now I feel all these years later it’s more relevant than it’s ever been,” Stefani said.
“Hollaback Girl” ended the set with the crowd singing the song’s iconic lyrics back at Stefani and spelling the word ‘bananas.’
“You’re welcome for getting you ready and all sweaty for Blake Shelton,” Stefani said before she left the stage. “That’s how he likes it.”
What else happened before the start of the IndyCar race?
Shortly after Stefani left the stage, Gov. Kim Reynolds, Hy-Vee CEO Randy Edeker and actor Mark Wahlberg — who is a part-owner of burger chain Wahlburgers, a partner of Hy-Vee — addressed the crowds ahead of the race.
Clarksville native Maddie Poppe, winner of “American Idol” Season 16 in 2018, performed “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Wahlberg served as grand marshal of the race, giving the traditional command for drivers to start their cars.
Hannah Rodriguez covers retail for the Des Moines Register. Reach her at email@example.com or on Twitter @byherodriguez.