Britney Spears wsg/ O-Town
(The Palace of Auburn Hills, MI - 11/26/01)
As we all awaited the start of what has been termed one of the 'hottest tickets in town,' it soon became plainly evident that the quoted heat factor had an awful lot to do with the sporadically situated fountains of fire more than the act itself. Not taking anything away from the young lady herself, but when you're pre-warned not to step within three feet of this gushers, you know you're face will be getting a free tanning session that night.
As the house lights go down, a little over twenty minutes behind schedule, a young, seemingly bemused Britney-lookalike comes to center stage. Dressed in a mini nightgown, the young girl lip-syncs to some spoken Britney words about growing up. Then, upon her disappearance, the highly-strung video screens above show various dream montages: their overall relevance somewhat mystifying until Ms. Spears herself suddenly appears. Making everyone aware that she felt lucky to be where she was in life and that dreams really can come true, she muttered that "last night I dreamt of this very moment, when I was here with all of you" before a computer-generated bottom-of-the-garden variety fairy flitters around telling everyone to prepare for the forthcoming song and dance extravaganza.
And then, amongst a backdrop of about fifty TV screens; all alight with raging fake flames, the stage fires spark into life and from the tip of the long catwalk stage - rising like a vampire from the dead - comes a guitar player. Soon other musicians and then dancers are springing up all over the place, before the smoke-filled main stage is suddenly lit up and there, slowly rising, her body strapped to a heavily-lit rectangle version of the Wheel of Fortune, Britney is at last in plain view to the screaming hordes. Raised until she is vertical to the audience, she is slowly spun round, her vocals to the set opener 'Oops, I Did It Again' perfect at all times regardless of all various gravity aspects.
Dressed in a black lace outfit, Britney emerged from the fiery stage and was quickly released from her grand entrance contraption before proceeding to energetically dance her way around the main stage. Great for the people at the front, but not so hot for the people middle and worse. So, midway through the next tune, 'Crazy' Britney springs down the catwalk, does some minor 'acting' with her black and white-dressed troupe (including getting tied up in thick white ropes), and then proceeds to give the cheap seats some hearty musical fodder. As she then herself disappears into the electronic 'grave' below, the pre-taped harmonious chants of 'Britney, what it is right now' ringing around the sold-out 15,000 seater arena, she reappears once again on the main stage for the new album cut, 'Overprotected.'
And that was just the first three songs ! To witness a Britney Spears show is rather like when your parents took you to the circus all those years ago. You went to see the face-painted clowns perform their many acts and to witness a show that had you baffled by all its constant brevity and color. Tonight, Britney was most definitely the Ringmaster supreme, her dancers both colorful and entertaining, but the nagging theory that her vocals were just always a little too perfect did throw a slight spanner in the works. It's been said that Britney lip-syncs live over a pre-recorded, and constantly running backing tape - which would explain her voice being nearly perfect CD quality for the entire night - but whatever the real 'truth' behind the matter, please let it be known that she puts on well hell of a dance set mixed with sexual gyrations that would stun a nun at ten paces !
As the show progressed so did the screams of continual adoration from the all-ages demographic. These guys just love Britney, no matter how she deems to throw her voice. Hell, half the time it's not even her voice they are concerned about, but moreover her provocatively choreographed dance moves and ever-present bared midriff ! As both she and her dancers moved to ever-present beats confetti rained down on both crowd and stage alike. 'Lucky' was its name and then the music box of a hit machine began to roll faster and faster. 'Sometimes', the sexy nightclub act 'Boys' and 'I'm Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman' all spewed forth. For the Joan Jett cover of 'I Love Rock n' Roll', Britney and her troupe rose from the stage on a fiery platform, hovering over the audience before bungee jumping into a dance sequence that defied gravity !
Many more hits were forthcoming - she's had three albums, didn't you know - but it was when she asked the audience if they, like her, have ever felt like a slave to the music that the roars noticeably escalated. 'I'm A Slave 4 U' came next, and although the act was minus a snake this time she certainly made up for it be slithering and crawling along the stage !
As she finally bid farewell to the - in some areas - tear-stained faces of the young crowd, she didn't keep them waiting long before she returned to perform a rather vamped up version of the very first hit single, 'Baby, One More Time'. Upon it's ending, to say that there wasn't a dry eye nor dream in the place would have to be the understatement of the year !
Review and all Photographs by Russell A. Trunk
From The Fans:
"Well, I never thought I'd be so excited to see Britney Spears in concert ! I was very impressed with the performance and I've been to a lot of other concerts; U2, The Tragically Hip, Sheryl Crow, Billy Joel and Elton John, but I have to say that Britney had the best performance of them all ! The special effects were incredible with the rain, the fire, the confetti, the fireworks and the suspended dancers ! It was so surreal, almost like an epiphany ! As for the costumes, I loved all of Britney's clothes: the jumper, the little mini skirts, the high boots (especially the green ones in 'I'm A Slave 4 U'), the cowgirl hat, everything ! The only part of the show that I thought wasn't really Britney was at the beginning when she ran into the white ropes. I thought that looked a little fake. The crowd had a diverse feel to it also, with a lot of Britney lookalikes, but not everyone was a 12-year old girl. I'd say that at least 30% of the fans were adults ! Watching Britney's show doubled my respect for her not only as a pop star, but as a young woman living her dream !"
Christina Chapman, London Ont., Canada
"Unfortunately, I only stayed for about 5 songs, but not because of anything else more than that it was past my bedtime ! What I saw of the 'show' part of it was great though. However, she doesn't do much different from song to song. Her dancing is all the same and when I go to a show I prefer to know that the person is singing and not lip syncing. I thought the dancers she had with her on stage were great and it was definitely entertaining !"
Amy Haenick, Troy, MI
"The concert was great, but our seats were not very good. The show was exactly the same as we saw on HBO and her outfits were for the most part pretty awesome. The part that really got to us though was when she was sitting on the piano and she gave the exact same speech. Word for word that she did on HBO in Las Vegas. It was ridiculous. She def should have changed it and made it more personal."
Brooke and Lauren