Pop star Britney Spears gave her young Southland fans exactly the kind of show they came for on Tuesday at the sold-out Staples Center. The ambitious blonde’s 75-minute production featured lots of choreographed dance routines, many flashy and sexy outfits, non-stop explosions, fireworks and other arena-rock affectations, plus even a little singing.
The opening “Oops … I Did It Again” found Ms. Britney attached to a large spinning wheel (like the ones magicians throw knives at), and the sight –magnified via three large video screens –was enough to send the packed house of predominantly teen and pre-teen young ladies into a screaming frenzy.
A team of dancers then raced about the expansive stage and surrounded Spears, who very much had her hands full executing her dance moves while maintaining focus on her precarious headset microphone and on the vocals, many of which seemed to be of the pre-recorded variety.
The 16 songs offered were mostly taken from Spears’ three bestselling Jive albums, with extra emphasis on the 6-month-old, 4 million-selling “Britney,” including recent single “Overprotected.” Themes ranged, predictably, from boys to growing up to fame and back to boys.
Some effort has been made to move the 20-year-old Spears from her entrenched teenybopper image to a more mature one, but in concert some such moves only serve to reinforce her reputation as a singer of dubious skills.
The wannabe-torch styling of “I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman” were quite unconvincing, and despite the best efforts of video cameramen using shadowy shots to conceal Spears’ mouth during the tender ballad “Lonely,” it was quite obvious the steady vocals that echoed through the arena were not live. The worst was an awful cover of “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” that was more disco than rock.
The funky “Boys” and the way-sexy “I’m a Slave for You,” which closed the regular set, were the best of the evening’s selections, mostly because the band, which was tucked back into one corner of the stage, was allowed to stretch out on those tunes and bring some much-needed musicality to the proceedings. An encore of “…Baby One More Time” brought this pep rally of a show to a close.
Spears’ two-night L.A. stand closes tonight after deferring Staples Center to a Lakers-Nets NBA Finals game on Wednesday.