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Oops! Concert Reviews

Toronto, ON - Molson Amphitheatre
Toronto - Britney Spears knows how to stun a crowd.
For the 16'000 (mostly) young girls who filled the Molson Amphitheatre to see her last night, all she had to do was show up.
In fact, Spears was a good 25 minutes late for her scheduled set time of 8:45 when she took the stage and launched into her hit tune (You Drive Me) Crazy to a willd-eyed response from the sell-out crowd.
However, there are two kinds of wild responses in the complicated world of teen pop:
a) Sheer shrieking madness;
b) a state resembling stunned silence.
Spears was greeted by the latter last night.
There was noise, sure, but like a teen heartthrob in reverse, the singer didn't generate puppy-loving screams so much as rapture. It was as if the kids were watching her moves like experts, waiting to see if her performance panned out to match her videos or their own imaginations.
It took a verison of Stronger, from her recent smash album Oops!...I Did It Again, to break the ice.
Given the multitude of productions for each of her songs in the 90-minute show, the music quickly took a back seat.
Backed by an unintrusive, studio-polished band who were tucked into the backdrop, Spears poured bucketloads of sweat and energy into her dance routines.
So much so, you could hear her voice heaving and cracking as she spoke between songs. Sure must've been hard to deliver those tunes without lip-synching.
She shared the stage with female and male dancers dressed in a Crusader-style outfits, and led an all-guy number that mirrored the stage routines of her music-biz cousins the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC.
Spears' selection included catchy songs amid the flashpots and concussion bombs, beefed up with inescapable hits like Baby One More Time and a stab at (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction.
The scene changes incorporated at glamourous, Sunset Boulevard-style motif, a catsuit straight out of The Avengers, a sort of psychedelic Mikado thing to go along with her verison of The Beat Goes On, and a teeny-pop pyjama party set-up complete with teddy bears.
Then there was the kilted schoolgirl routine for Baby One More Time.
Which brings up one unavoidable observation: It was impossible to ignore the contrast between these latter pictures of faux-innocence and, say, the pole she swung around during an earlier number.
Like her boy-band counterparts, so many blueprints in her set seem torn out of the stripper guidebook that it can't be a concidence.
Things had steamed up so much by her encore, which featured Oops! I Did It Again, that well - JUMPIN, JAILBAIT!
Don't get me wrong. Spears is 18, a legal sexual being and all that, and she's free to control that sexuality any way she wants on stage.
But definitely works on two levels.
And for most of her paying fans, that meant listening carefully to the favourites for places to sing along.
London, UK - Wembley Arena
"What would you do to meet Britney?"
That's the question that booms out at us half an hour into Miss Spears' evening of choreography and pyrotechnics. While Britney changes costumes, her dancers march a few kids onstage and urge them to humiliate themselves by barking like a dog, flopping like a fish, or walking like a chicken.
Little spiky-haired George (the chicken) is crap, but when he announces he's from Essex the arena explodes with noise, and the cheering makes him the winner. Make of this what you will.
Before the show, dotmusic finds itself in queue full of 12 year old girls wearing the sort of clothes that would surely warrant an in-depth investigation by the News Of The World. But they're her core crowd. Critics (older, male) usually focus upon Britney's youth (18 this year), but to her fans she's the big sister they've always wanted.
Britney has recognised this too. She wants us to know that, yep, she's just like us. (Apart from the fact that she's enormously famous and extremely wealthy, we're virtually indentical).
This leads to numberous 'heartfelt' thanks to her audience. As the thousands assembled here have handed over - in terms of tickets and merchandise - about 750'000 pounds, thanks should be the least of it. (This is American showbiz, though: ''God has blessed me so much. I want to thank you all for making my dreams come true.'')
It was recently announced that Britney Spears was the most searched-for name on the Internet. Further delving revealead that, usually, it was accompanied by the word 'naked'.
Yep, Britney has a male audience too! And they're skilfully created catered for. If Britney is, at any point tonight, wearing clothes that conceal her cleavage or thighs, it is solely so she can suggestively rip them off in the middle of the song, Halfway through the show Britney in bra top and shorts bends back into the arms of her dancers, several teenage boys in the row in front seem to have their first experience of puberty.
And the music? Well, it's the least important part of the mix tonight. She trots out most of Oops! I Did It Again, with the odd highlight from debut Baby One More Time scattered throughout. You very often get the impression she isn't actually singing a not herself.
The session musicians are efficiently and skillfully crap (at one point, to allow Britney to slip into something less comfortable, they knock out a grim funk jam with horrible wibbly '80s keyboard sounds and a sodding drum solo). It's Wembley, so if there were any subteties to anyone's performance, you wouldn't hear it anyway. And that's that.
When she scarpers after a sweaty, hip-grinding cover of the Rolling Stones' Satisfaction you can't help looking back at bits of the previous hour. - Britney's fake bedroom, in which she and her dancers hug teddy bears; Britney in white naval uniform while sailors boys straight out of West Side Story dance around her and the US flag flickers on the video screen; Britney in an 8m long trailing ballgown; Britney on wires hanging from the roof wearing the largest skirt ever! -and wondering "what the hell was that all about?''
No time for answers, though; she reappears in school uniform, several of the dads need a bit of a lie down, and the opening chords of Baby One More Time are five minutes of utter genious. Which is five minutes more than most can manage.
Oops! is exactly the same song, only not as good, but she's saved her most revealing clobber till last, so the audience is still happy. Which in the world of Britney, is the only point. The people got what they wanted, and paid handsomely for the priveledge. Don't forget to buy you Britney teddy-bear on the way out!