Let’s get one thing straight: A Britney Spears concert is not about the music.
It’s about the spectacle — the campy fun of counting Spears’ costume changes and watching her dance breathlessly for three songs straight, only to come back for more minutes later.
The music? Not the point.
Music purists (and other purists, more on this later) might have a problem with Spears, a passable vocalist who appeared to be lip-syncing for most of her 90-minute show Monday night at the TD Waterhouse Centre.
Considering how hard she was working as a dancer — she glistened with sweat throughout the performance — it was probably difficult for her to sing at all.
Guided by a creepy master of ceremonies who promised an evening of “fun-filled fantasies” and “titillation,” the show took Spears through a variety of colorful, visually stimulating settings in the “Onyx Hotel.”
She burst on stage in Costume No. 1, a black catlike bodysuit, for the current hit “Toxic.” The polished choreography resembled Janet Jackson, circa Rhythm Nation 1814. (Spears, however, didn’t pull a Janet, circa Super Bowl 2004. Everything stayed in place.)
In Costume No. 2, a frilly pink leotard, Spears addressed her infectious bubble-gum hits “Baby One More Time,” “Oops! . . . I Did it Again” and “(You Drive Me) Crazy” in a jarring and dissonant cabaret style.
Thankfully, though, Spears kept the slow ballads to a minimum, sparing us the gag-inducing tunes that defined her teen years.
Her peppy numbers were much more successful, allowing the audience to focus on her dancing.
She didn’t miss a beat throughout the synchronized performance. The choreography was flawless — maybe a little too flawless. Planned down to the breath, the show didn’t give Spears room for improvisation of any sort.
“There are a lot of cute boys in the audience,” she told the crowd of mostly young women in halter tops. And then she alluded to her 55-hour marriage: “Maybe if you’re really lucky, I might marry you.”
Cute, but she’s used that line in every city so far.
Come on, Brit. Give us some personality. Couldn’t you show just a bit of special love for Orlando, your old stomping grounds, the place where you got your big start? Remember your Mouseketeer days?
Then again, there were no Mouse ears in sight.
For weeks the media has buzzed about the show’s sexual nature. But only two songs were purely sexual.
For “Touch of My Hand” Spears wore a flesh-colored sparkly bodysuit and thrashed in a bathtub as silhouettes of entangled lovers flickered onstage.
For “Breathe on Me,” she wore a hot pink bra and panty set and rolled around in bed. Near the end of the song, she took a break from her lip-sync to lip-lock with a dancer.
Racy, sure, but relax, people. The audience was filled mostly with college-age women who can handle this stuff.
Throughout the show, Spears’ team of dancers bolstered the performance, showing commendable artistry in the slower song “Shadow.” As Spears hovered over the stage on a swing, two Cirque du Soleil-style acrobats spun around dangling ribbons. Her band also added a nice touch with a brief detour into an enjoyable, Latin-inspired interlude.
But when you go to Britney Spears show, you have to remember that it’s about the sight, not the sound.
The girl (is she still not yet a woman?) might not have the best voice, but she has her merits as a terrific dancer. And she puts on a fun spectacle.
Inspiring? No. Entertaining? For sure.
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