Flash can’t mask a boring Britney at the Palace

By |2011-07-28T09:00:00-04:00July 28th, 2011|News|

Gimme, gimme more is what went through my head yesterday night – and not because Britney Spears, who gave a half-assed performance at the Palace of Auburn Hills, sang that at her “Femme Fatale” show. It’s the thought that crossed my mind as I watched a pop princess reach that stage in her career where she doesn’t have to do anything but look good, her what-used-to-be dancing now reduced to loose arm criss-crosses and knee pops – not even half of what her eight dancers were doing.
After Nicki Minaj opened with a bizarre and not-so-live set that only rarely killed it, Britney’s 90-minute show launched with a conceptual video intro, which had Spears running from the law in a very Angelina Jolie-in-“Salt” way and escaping onto a raised platform that was hidden behind the screen. Wide grinned and looking the best she has in years, she opened with “Hold It Against Me,” from her latest release, “Femme Fatale.” Her set was mostly made of songs off the new album, and it wasn’t until halfway into the frilly show that she did anything from her early years, teasing with a bit of “…Baby One More Time” (which, for some reason, awkwardly merged into Rihanna’s “S&M”) and offering the full version of old-school ballad “Don’t Let Me Be The Last to Know,” which appeared to be the only time she actually sang live.
But then again, who knows. It was hard to discern live from prerecorded vocals (especially since the two smaller screens on either side of the stage rarely got close enough on her to tell), and it also didn’t really matter – it’s not why people, almost 14,000 of them on this particular night, come to see Spears. It’s for the flamboyant spectacle, the star power, and the hot, shirtless dancers, who danced circles – and backflips – around the “Sexy Assassin,” as she was called.
And there was lots going on – from strobe lights and a conveyer-belt catwalk to big props (oh, like a whole car) – but barely any of it had to do with Spears. Like her last few albums, Spears didn’t seem all that invested in this either, sleepwalking through most of the show and letting everyone else do the work. She also didn’t have much to say, offering just a few “What’s up, Detroit?” shout outs.
But the show wasn’t a bust; there was plenty going on that it never completely sagged. During “How I Roll” she came out perched on a pink convertible that moved to the far-end of the stage’s leg, and there was a cute-if-random homage to Marilyn Monroe during “If You Seek Amy,” when Spears was being photographed in that notorious flowing white dress. For “Drop Dead Beautiful,” she acknowledged her gay fans non-verbally via a video, which flashed images of man-fanny and then guys in some soft-core poses. She did something similar with “Slave 4 U,” but with an edgy S&M theme. And, like most of the set, it didn’t really work into the show’s spy motif.
Best were “Toxic,” new single “I Wanna Go” and her encore, “Till The World Ends,” performed in neat vests that lit-up in eye-catching crimson. But until Spears gets more engaged, and steps up her game, she can’t expect us to be, either.

About the Author:

Chris Azzopardi
As editor of Q Syndicate, the international LGBTQ wire service, Chris Azzopardi has interviewed a multitude of superstars, including Cher, Meryl Streep, Mariah Carey and Beyoncé. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, GQ, Vanity Fair and Billboard. Reach him via Twitter @chrisazzopardi.