BRITNEY GOES BALD, PLAYS TINY DANCE, GETS CAUGHT IN THE RAIN AT TOUR KICKOFF
Columbus, OH - Nationwide Arena
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Almost a week late, Britney Spears finally kicked off her 2001 Tour Thursday
night after the flu and a kink in her pre-production held her up.
Obviously the fans who flooded the Nationwide Arena expected the concert to be all about Britney - the person,
that is. And sure, she explored some personal issues/interests, appearing with a bald head at one point, bungee jumping, and
fighting off faceless nemeses, during her performance, but the singing kept true to her promise to make a large portion of
the show about Britney, the album. She previewed cuts off of her upcoming release, due November 6.
Last week Spears alluded to sneak peek of her latest project during a press conference. ``I just want my fans
to see me in a different light than they have ever seen me (in) before,'' she said. ``This music I am singing right now is
such a reflection of me and who I am. Hopefully [the fans] will come to the show and be inspired and have a lot of fun.''
The show commenced with a woman dressed in what seemed like 18th-century pajamas telling everyone what the
performance's them would be: ``A dream within a dream.''
Bewildered, the spectators looked on as an almost stage-length screen revealed Britney for the first time.
``Will all my dreams come true?'' she asked before disappearing. After a few more minutes of on-screen oddity it was time
to get down.
Britney, dressed in all black, her hair pinned up in a big Peggy Bundy-like puff, hung from a wheel that was
placed on a huge platform and lifted several feet above the ground. Spinning in 360-degree turns, she began singing, ``Oops
I Did It Again.'' As she was lowered her dancers, dressed in post-apocalyptic black garb crept up.
``You're gonna have to see through my perspective,'' she sang a few minutes later during one of the night's
first unfamiliar numbers, Britney's ``Overprotected.'' ``I need to make mistakes just to learn who I am/And I don't
wanna be so damn protected!'' While she performed onstage, one of her set's smaller hanging screens showed the pop diva singing
baldheaded, then her image morphed to show her with long flowing hair.
During a few spots in the concert, there was so much spectacle it was nearly impossible to keep up with everything.
Britney would be onstage dancing in one area (she squared off in a battle with an image of herself on a screen during ``Lonely''),
her dancers would be in another then there would be a whole separate collage being displayed on the giant screen.
An enormous music box raised from below, only to open and have Britney act as a toy ballerina who comes to
life and sings a fan favourite, ``Born To Make You Happy.'' (Remember, the theme for the evening is ``A dream withing a dream.'')
Every boy in the arena must have experienced deja vu from one of his fantasties as Spears turned seductress
with another new song, ``Boys.''
``You're a sexy guy/I'm a nice girl/Let's turn this dance floor into our own little nasty world,'' the now
tank-top-clad pop princess sensually vocalized. Before Britney slowed down the pace to perform the ballad, ``I'm Not a Girl,
Not Yet a Woman,'' which she said will be her new album's next single, the 19-year-old said she's going to continue to be
unabashed with some of her actions.
``I get a lot of flack for what I wear or what I don't wear,'' she told the crowd. ``I get a lot of flack
for what I say and what I don't say, but I'm not a little girl anymore.''
As her keyboardist began playing, clips of Britney at play with her friends were shown, and then she went
into her independence anthem, quipping in song, ``Don't tell me what to believe/I'm trying to find the woman in me.''
Less sentimental was her cover of ``I Love Rock n' Roll.'' The fans, a majority of whom weren't alive when
Joan Jett took the anthem to #1 in 1982, seemed to be familiar with the cut, as they headbanged and chanted ageless chorus.
A definite performance standout, Britney was getting her own groove on with her dancers, hovering above the
spectators on a platform that hung on wires. Head swaying, one hand in the air and swiveling her hips, she stopped gyrating
and bungee jumped. Almost simultaneously, two of her dancers who were also harnessed ascended into the sky from the head
of the stage as the singer sprung back up from her plunge. An aerial chase ensued as they grabbed at her. You guessed
it right - the heroine did escape to do more singing and dancing.
Houses and cars that looked like cut-out crayon drawings were bought out to enhance the playful mood of ``Anticipating.''
Britney must've forgotten that the disco-era throwback cut was brand spanking new, because she kept encouraging everyone
to sing along to the chorus, `I been an-tic-a-paaay-ting/This is our song they're playing.'' Although the crowd clapped and
bobbed to the beat, Britney had to go this one alone vocally. The crowd did know ``I'm A Slave 4 u,'' which followed.
Britney rehashed the jungle setting from her MTV Video Music Awards performance of the cut in September, right down to the
green bra top and skimpy skirt. No snake this time, though.
The finale, ``Baby One More Time,'' was the most elaborate performance of the night. A hologram of the singer
that towered above the stage was projected, only to gradually shrink until the lights were on Britney. Wearing a plastic cowboy
hat, blue hip-huggers and a matching bra top, she and her dancers made their way to the front of the stage, dancing to a techno
remix of the song.
As flames and pyro shot up only inches from there where they were dancing, everyone made their way back to
a suspended platform. Now with Hollywood rain machine water pouring down on them, the damp troop was lifted out of the elements
to make a final wave at the crowd.
As she sang, `Hit me baby one more time'' for the last time, green laser lights forged her signature. The
enchanter was signing off.
``I come from Broadway, so I want it to be very theatrical,'' Britney said of her hopes for the tour last
week. ``The whole process for me is magical. Hopefully it will be something people have never even imagined or envisioned
in their head. I was going through a run-through yesterday and was thing, `By the time I'm 30, there's not going to be anything
left for me to do.' "
After the show, the new songs were geting praise. ``I liked them,'' said 18-year-old Jason Mooney of New Concord,
Ohio, of the previewed cuts. ``I wasn't quite sure what they were, but I liked them.''
``I'm going to be at the store at eight o'clock in themorning to buy the album next week,'' said 18 year old
Jenny Stoinski, who goes to school in Columbus. ``I liked `I'm Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman.' She has so much to go through.
I'm proud of her.''
BRITNEY UNVEILS NEW IMAGE, SOUND
Toronto, ON - Air Canada Centre
TORONTO - Britney Spears, reigning queen of the pop acts, didn't fill Air Canada Centre with her famous bubble-gum
presence and pre-teen giggles on Monday night.
Instead, she chose to create a dream-like opus complete with nightmare-esque video montages and thumping beats
and breezy day-dreamy numbers featuring blue-moon lighting.
The concert kicked off after a seizure-inducing video montage of the pop diva and random film clips.
``It's a dream come true,'' whispered video Spears as the atmosphere morphed into a bad dream featuring startling
pyrotechnics. Her back-up band emerged vampire-like from beneath the stage in what appeared to be coffins and clad in billowing
Spears herself made a melodramtaic entrance - suspended high above the T-shaped stage on a spinning wheel
- warming up the audience with an old favourite instead of kicking off with brand new material from ``Britney'', her new album.
The nightmare setting lasted for three up-tempo numbers; ``Oops I Did It Again,'' ``Crazy'' and then the new
Ever the glamorous popstar, Spears managed to make the first of many costume changes during the first three
The lengthy changes slowed the pace of the show, allowing the audience to fall out of Spears' dreamy-trance
for minutes at a time. ``Comedic'' video montages featuring Spears playing the role of a rock-star wannabe clocked in well
beyond the funny mark and left the room restless and wanting more of the star herself in person.
But, when Spears did reappear (dressed in bell-revealing outfits), she did her best to fill the stadium with
precise dance movements and elaborate sets.
Although the audience responded to her energetic numbers - a cover of ``I Love Rock n' Roll'', ``Stronger''
and ``What It's Like To Be Me'' to name a few - it was a heartfelt ballad that gave a glimpse into Spears' true potential
and star power.
Sitting on the edge of a piano bench, the stage absent of dancers and bathed in twilight lighting effect,
Spears' photogenic face was beemed throughout the stadium. Looking sweet, sincere and genuinely happy to be there, Spears
took a moment to thank the firefighters and rescue personal who helped with the September 11 tragedy before launching into
her new ballad, ``I'm Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman.''
Unlike the music and attitude that has categorized her in the past, the performance gave Spears a depth she's
On the other side of the Spectrum, the new track `Anticipating' was quintessential Spears and seemed to suit
the star just as well as ``Boys'' did. Decked out in a neon cap, top, boots, and a denim skirt, she and her dancers pranced
around the stage in a bright-pink faux-car and skipped around neon and pastel cardboard houses.
The song was peppy and fun and aimed straight at the under thirteen crowd that may have been overwhelmed by
the pyrotechnics and dark beats that peppered the performances of her new up-tempo tracks.
The sweet, bubble-gum pop was swiftly replaced by Spears' grown-up alter ego. The neon top and cap were thrown
away and the denim skirt peeled off to reveal a barely there skirt, knee-high neon green boots, and a tiny green bra-top.
``Anticipating'' faded into her latest single - `I'm A Slave 4 U''. The song, her outfit, and the performance
landed on the bad side of sleazy and Spears disappointingly abandoned the sheer likeability she reveal through, ``Boys'' and
``Anticipating'' in favour of breathy moans and cleavage-revealing dance moves.
After climbing a pole above the stage and bending over to give the audience a shot of her (are they real or
aren't they?) breasts while finishing up the last verse of ``Slave'', the show was over.
But it just wouldn't be a Britney Spears show without the song that made her the mega-star she is today.
Perhaps the most impressive stage-effect used by popstars (so far), the centre of the stage was transformed
into a tornado/space-ship landing through lighting, lasers and noise. Then the atmosphere softened, and Spears emerged from
underneath the stage her encore.
As her platform rose, the tornado transformed into a rainstorm and Spears, writhing around in the water, serenaded
the crowd with a remixed verison of ``Baby One More Time''.
One part Celine Dion power-ballad, two parts dance mix, the new verison of ``Baby One More Time'' was fun
and orginial. Coupled with elaborate choreography and sets, which included a suspended platform carrying Spears and her dancers,
the finale was a fitting end to her dreamy, melodramatic show.
``It was a just a dream. A dream within a dream,'' whispered video Spears from the large monitors.
Although flawed and overdone in places (the ``dreamy'' atmosphere could have been achieved without the lengthy
video montages and the entire show could have done with a bit less cleavage), Spears gave the audience what they wanted.
The show was the visual spectacle pop fans have come to expect in the wake of *Nsync and The Backstreet Boys,
and Spears catered to her fans' expectations of elaborate dances and, of course, a rendition of ``Baby One More Time''. It
also gave a glimer of hope to those who want the pop diva to become the next Madonna. For a few minutes here and here, Spears
showed actual talent and the potential to be able to truly perform and connect with her audience on an intimate level instead
of acting as the pop-puppet and marketing tool for tweens that she's often accused of being.