You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Britney Spears

Singer seems to have learned how to keep her personal life in check, while channeling the trashy diva/stripper-with-a-heart-of-gold persona her fans crave.

Also Appearing: Nicki Minaj, Jessie and the Toy Boys.

Perhaps no current pop star has experienced such an outwardly turbulent relationship with fame as Britney Spears. After so many infamous tabloid moments and potentially career-threatening decisions, it is no small achievement that Spears has been able to maintain her enormous fan base and even reinvent herself musically. Now in her late 20s, the singer seems to have learned how to keep her personal life in check, while channeling the trashy diva/stripper-with-a-heart-of-gold persona her fans crave.

Monday’s performance at Staples Center found the arena overrun with young women clearly reveling in the opportunity to dress in all manner of tight-clinging, club-ready attire. Spears is a catalyst for women, and a smaller segment of men, to unleash suppressed desires in the way of overt raunchiness and sexualized fantasy. Her current Femme Fatale tour ramps up the camp, while specifically glorifying power and control in sexual relationships.

For pop concerts of this magnitude there always seems to be some sort of vague narrative arc running through the entirety of the set, and Spears’ Femme Fatale show was no exception, weaving a seemingly nonsensical, spy-thriller plotline throughout the performance. Massive HD screens flickered with strange monologues, noir-ish fantasy sequences and awkward chase montages, while Spears’ army of dancers engaged in some truly impressive displays of choreography and stunt work. Musically, the concert emphasized the club-ready, synth-drenched material of Spears’ past two albums — and it worked, in terms of recontextualizing her as a relevant purveyor of modern, techno-derived pop.

Though visually impressive, the show lacked a truly engaging human quality. Spears moved with an almost mechanical detachment, lightly shifting through dance routines without fully letting her body release itself. With her voice heavily processed and laden with backing tracks, she appeared onstage as some strange blend of Michael Jackson, Madonna and Kraftwerk’s Ralf and Florian. It may seem odd to compare her to the German techno pioneers, but in many ways she fulfills that group’s nascent ambition of becoming fully-mechanized pop stars. Spears is just that — entirely synthetic, coolly unaware and physically pristine. And the crowd reacted wildly to all of it: screaming out the chorus to “I’m a Slave 4 U,” pulsating along to the twitch of “Gimme More” and going absolutely ballistic for the brief, two-verse rendition of “…Baby One More Time.”

The stage show was wild, fun and filled with ambitious physical displays by her male dancers. From metallic swings to Egyptian boats and conveyor belts, the show consistently dazzled from a production standpoint. In terms of songs, there weren’t a lot of memorable tracks, with the exception of two newer numbers: “He About To Lose Me” and the anthemic, night-capping “Till The World Ends.” The former found Spears artfully blending synths and basic dance beats with a truly affecting verse/chorus swell, evocative of Nelly Furtado’s slow-burn masterpiece “Say It Right.”

Multi-voiced hip-hop newcomer Nicki Minaj opened the show and joined Spears onstage for a spastic verse during the encore. Her vocal talents and inherent unpredictability are what make Minaj such an intriguing figure in modern pop. Unfortunately, much of her set catered more specifically to the MOR stylings of her debut album, and downplayed the wild raunch of her most successful material.

Britney Spears

Staples Center; 20,000 Capacity; $350 top

Production: Presented by Live Nation. Reviewed June 20, 2011.

Cast: Also Appearing: Nicki Minaj, Jessie and the Toy Boys.

More Music

  • Red Hot Chili Peppers - Flea,

    Guitarist John Frusciante Rejoins the Red Hot Chili Peppers — Again​

    The Red Hot Chili Peppers revealed today that guitarist John Frusciante, who has been a member two previous times, is back in the band, replacing guitarist Josh Klinghoffer. “The Red Hot Chili Peppers announce that we are parting ways with our guitarist of the past ten years, Josh Klinghoffer,” the California rockers stated in an Instagram post. “Josh is a beautiful [...]

  • Taylor Swift

    Taylor Swift Adds Glastonbury Headlining Slot to 2020 European Tour

    When Taylor Swift announced that a mere four stadium shows in two cities in California and Massachusetts would be the only official U.S. dates on her “Lover” tour next summer, the emphasis at the time was on the American. Additional dates have been scheduled for overseas festivals and stadiums, and speculation that she would be [...]


    Taylor Swift Celebrates Her 30th Birthday Onstage at New York Jingle Ball

    Taylor Swift celebrated her 30th birthday with over 20,000 of her closest friends onstage at Madison Square Garden for iHeartRadio’s annual Jingle Ball, hosted by New York City’s Z100. Swift took a moment to thank fans for coming to her party. “I had a choice,” she said. “Where would I want to spend my 30th [...]

  • Harry Styles Stevie Nicks

    Harry Styles Brings Out Stevie Nicks, Reworks One Direction Classic at the Forum (Watch)

    Harry Styles strutted, sashayed and transfixed the crowd at the Forum on Friday night (Dec. 13) for his combination record release party and one-night-only superfan affair. “Fine Line,” as his album is titled and the engagement touted on the outside of the venue, featured the live debuts of nine new songs including standout stunners “Golden,” [...]

  • Pete York and Rain Phoenix

    Rain Phoenix Joins Pete Yorn for 'Relator,' Originally Sung With Scarlett Johansson (Watch)

    Ten years before “Señorita,” another famous twosome recorded a romantic duet together: Pete Yorn and Scarlett Johansson, who joined forces on “Relator.” It was the first single from an entire album of collaborations, 2009’s “Break Up,” which was inspired by the songs of Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot, but fans hardly ever got to hear [...]

  • US Capitol

    The Sneaky Long Game of ALI’s Restatement of Copyright (Guest Column)

    Last week, Senator Thom Tillis and four other members of Congress sent a letter to an organization you may never have heard of, the American Law Institute (ALI).  The letter questions the ALI’s ongoing project to publish a competing version of the Copyright Act – or, as the ALI calls it, a “Restatement” of copyright [...]

  • Tom Petty’s Daughters, Widow Settle Legal

    Tom Petty’s Daughters, Widow Settle Legal Battle Over Estate

    Tom Petty’s widow and daughters from a previous marriage have settled their bitter legal battle, according to a report in Rolling Stone. Earlier this year, Adria Petty and Annakim Violette, the late singer’s daughters with his former wife Jane, sued his second wife, Dana York, for $5 million, alleging that she had deprived them of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content