Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Spears lights July 4 fireworks

Pop princess spares no flash in arena spectacle

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On the fourth of July, American pop princess Britney Spears created some fireworks of her own in Canada.

Spears brought her Femme Fatale tour to the MTS Centre on America's birthday Monday for a crowd of 10,000 mostly female fans who were treated to a concert spectacle that was just like a fireworks display: bright, loud and explosive.

Spears spared no expense putting this tour together and the night was filled with all the bells and whistles fans have come to expect from the current crop of pop divas.

There were a multitude of video screens, lasers, pyro, a conveyor belt, a large posse of backup dancers, extensive choreographed routines and ever more impressive props ranging from giant speakers to an Egyptian dragon boat to a car that drove out onto a large stage extension that blossomed into a giant tree-like shape.

The show featured a storyline about Spears being chased and investigated by the police that served as a bridge between various costume changes.

The 29-year-old is still a blond bombshell and showed off her body in numerous revealing outfits that left little to the imagination. There was a white bejeweled bodysuit, a hot pink mini-dress and a black teddy. She channeled Marilyn Monroe during If U Seek Amy in a white skirt that blew up as she moved from platform to platform at the front of the stage.

Her backup dancers initially overshadowed the front woman, who seemed stiff and awkward during the first few songs, but Spears loosened up as the show went on and the spotlight rarely left her.

The evening featured material from her 12-year, seven-album career devoted to what she does best -- dance pop -- with club-happy bangers like Hold It Against Me, Up and Down, Big Fat Bass and How I Roll serving as the highlights during the early part of the evening.

Live, her voice is just as processed, Auto-Tuned and robotized as it is on her albums since she lip-syncs most of the show. Her fans don't seem to mind, if they notice at all, but it seems a bit disingenuous to mouth the words when people are paying money to see a live show.

Another disappointment was a shortened version of her breakthrough hit ...Baby One More Time, which was truncated so she could get into her Rihanna collaboration, S&M, even though the crowd was singing along and dancing to the 1999 single. At least she made it all the way through her slinky number I'm a Slave 4 U before riding a giant silver guitar during a version of Madonna's Burning Up.

She ended her main 75-minute set by getting some fans on stage to dance for I Wanna Go, then moved to the extended stage where a platform raised her in the air while she gyrated to Womanizer.

For the encore she emerged in a short pink kimono while her male dancers, dressed as ninjas, waved weapons around her for the electro-pop smash Toxic. The show-stopping finale, Till the World Ends, featured a wall of explosions and fireworks before a 'winged' Britney 'flew' above the crowd to the stage extension where she met her dancers and confetti blew into the crowd.

Happy fourth of July, indeed.

Up and coming hip-hop star Nicki Minaj opened the show with a quick 45-minute set that grew in energy as it went on, climaxing with the one-two punch of the Video Killed the Radio Star-sampling Check it Out and David Guetta collaboration, Where Them Girls At, which had the entire female portion of the crowd jumping up and down.

Minaj and her six dancers employed a storyline about her warrior alter ego Roman battling her enemy, Nemesis, but the sci-fi story and fake fights added little to the set other than as an excuse for the star and her crew to show off a variety of space-age inspired costumes.

rob.williams@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 5, 2011 C3

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