April 29, 2009
Britney Spears is back, and she knows how to put on a show. The Circus Tour is surely rolling into an arena near you, and if you have a couple of hundred dollars and enjoy pyrotechnics, magicians and trapeze artists then this show is definitely one not to be missed. The Spears doubters, and there have been many, have disappeared as ticket prices have sky rocketed on auction sites, and Britney merchandise is flying off the shelves on every tour stop. As show time approached everyone from young girls adorned in home made Britney t-shirts to twenty somethings who were those young girls just a few years ago, as well as their boyfriends and parents who were constantly looking at their watches, flooded into the sold out arena.
The Pussycat Dolls opened the show and made their way through a high energy, 45 minute set. With the massive stage they had to work with the group and were forced to spread out, and rarely stayed in one place for too long. An entire song was never completed in the same spot. The Dolls emerged in sparkling hoodies and kept the audience as involved as possible. It’s obvious who the real star of the show is. Nicole Scherzinger may be the next Beyonce, it seems as if she has become too big for the group format to work for her. Constantly in front of the other members with multiple spotlights fixed on her throughout the set, Scherzinger’s powerful voice and stage presence made the rest of the group look, merely, like back up dancers. Although, they are a pop group, the quintet does have talent. Performances of mega hits “Stickwitu,” and “You Are My Destiny,” were especially strong.
The queen of pop was lowered down from the ceiling as the arena shook with ear splitting screams. A video montage played which starred Perez Hilton welcoming everyone to The Circus. Dozens of costume changes, risque dance moves, and a flow of hit songs followed. To keep with the circus theme the stage was in the round, one big stage attached to two smaller stages for the three ring effect. To keep everyone happy Spears and her army of dancers, clowns, jugglers and magicians were constantly moving. Spears only addressed the crowd once saying “Hello Oakland.” In her last stop in Northern California she hadn’t even gotten that much right, saying hello to Sacramento from the stage in San Jose. The scale of this show is unlike any other currently running, but it felt more like a scripted spectacle than anything else.
The circus performers were a big part of the 90 minute set, when Spears would disappear for a costume change the circus act would take over, at times taking the audience out of the show. Once Britney left the stage the cell phones would come out and the texting began. Spears had no problem getting them back on their feet though, she must have lowered down from the ceiling or risen up from beneath the stage a half dozen times. As far as the actual music went the backing track covered most of the vocals, so the star could concentrate on hitting her spots. At times it looked as if she were bored, letting the dancers around her move and shake giving the illusion she was actually expending effort, when in reality she was just hitting another spot on cue. That being said, Britney is quite the polished performer, at one point losing a few hair extensions as a dancer was lifting her into the air. In the general admission area it was painfully obvious what had just happened and some murmurs rippled through the handful of fans toward the front. Britney gracefully landed back on the couch she had been lifted off of and covered the platinum blonde hair as she was lowered out of sight.
The song selection was varied and Spears mixed up new hits “Circus,” with older ones, “I’m a Slave 4 U.” She even went back to the beginning, and, performed a remixed version of “Baby One More Time,” the song that rocketed her to superstardom. She saved “Womanizer,” for the encore. Spears gave many different looks throughout the night. At some points she was reminiscent of a younger Madonna, at others, after a long dance routine on a pole, a stripper and at some points memories of her cringe worthy VMA performance surfaced. For the most part the show was what one would expect. Between the ring of fire, the final burst of confetti and the pop songs that seem to never grow old, Britney is back, and here to stay.
Concert Review Written By: Tyler Sobie