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MUSIC REVIEW

No Doubt hasn't lost its bounce

No Doubt singer Gwen Stefani had her tough-chick style - and her postnatal abs - on display at the Comcast Center. No Doubt singer Gwen Stefani had her tough-chick style - and her postnatal abs - on display at the Comcast Center. (Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff)
By Sarah Rodman
Globe Staff / June 22, 2009
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MANSFIELD - It’s been eight years since No Doubt’s last studio album. Since then lead singer Gwen Stefani has produced two successful solo albums and two kids. But evidence of either was scant during the band’s exuberant regrouping Saturday night at the Comcast Center.

It was as if the antic ska popsters had been cryogenically frozen in 2003 after the release of their greatest hits album and thawed just in time for the show.

The quartet, aided and abetted by endlessly energetic horn blowers-keyboardists-backing vocalists Stephen Bradley and Gabriel McNair, bounced, skipped, skanked, and pogoed through a delightfully high-octane, hit-rich 90 minutes.

Stefani was her typical tireless self, balancing her girlie lyrics and tough-chick rock-star cheek with veteran skill. No doubt many of the moms in the largely female crowd of 17,000 were more amazed at Stefani’s sculpted abs than perturbed that her solo material wasn’t included.

But there was honestly no room for “Hollaback Girl’’ as the live No Doubt jukebox kept issuing forth can’t-misses: the bubble-pop electricity of “Hella Good,’’ the ska stomp of “Bathwater,’’ the dancehall curves of “Hey Baby,’’ the caffeinated guitar riffs of “Just a Girl,’’ the lighter-beckoning break-up ballad “Don’t Speak.’’

The band frolicked on a stark white stage with an octopod-like riser hoisting drummer Adrian Young - resplendent in two-tone mohawk, black briefs, and checkered thigh-high hose and later, a tutu. They amped up the mood with stylish, colorful new videos to accompany the songs, including a spy motif for the dizzying “Ex-Girlfriend’’ and, appropriately, a futuristic cityscape for “New.’’

The night’s two sweetest moments came when vintage home video of the fresh-faced No Doubt-ers floated by during “Running’’ and when Stefani hauled a female fan from the pit onstage to show off her devotion in the way of elaborate band tattoos.

It would behoove the group to make a new record as soon as possible. They clearly still have the juice and if they wait much longer they could get trapped in turn-of-the-century amber, relegated to oldies status before their time.

Points to No Doubt for bringing along the outre and extremely limber Janelle Monae to spice up the beginning of the night. Monae, jitterbugging around the stage like a female André 3000 sporting a fluffy pompadour and Colonel Sanders tuxedo, was a sight to behold, but the sounds weren’t quite as beguiling as her industrial space funk was hampered by typical opening act sound issues.

If Monae’s act was treated like something to be withstood by most in the audience, middle act Paramore was embraced wholeheartedly. The chipper pop-rockers, led by spitfire Hayley Williams, buzzed genially and energetically through their stack of bouncy radio hits.

Sarah Rodman can reached at srodman@globe.com.

Photo Gallery

No Doubt in concert

No Doubt in concert

NO DOUBT With Paramore

and Janelle Monae

At: the Comcast Center,

Saturday

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