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Baby One More Time Concert Reviews

Toronto, ON - Molson Amphitheater
TORONTO - Britney Spears, the new teen queen of pop music, strutted her considerable stuff last night - breast implants or no breast implants - during a sold-out show at the Molson Amphitheatre.
The 17-year-old Spears, who launched her first-ever North American tour in Washington last week, revved up the crowd of mainly young females with an impressive arsenal that included six energetic and talented dancers, a five-piece band, two backup singers and - would you believe?-five costume changes.
The flashy combination went a long way to easing the delivery of the mostly lightweight pop tunes from her debut album, ...Baby One More Time, which is approaching sales five-times plantinum in Canada since its January release.
Spears, who has been the subject of breast implant rumours (which she has denied), recalled Janet Jackson or even Madonna in their early, more awkward years. She even went so far as to cover Madonna's Material Girl and Jackson's Black Cat and Nasty.
Not that the tummy-baring and pony-tailed Spears didn't possess enough stage confidence to make her former pals from her days as a Mouseketeer in Florida proud.
Appearing initially at the top of a staircase in a white latex suit and pink latex tube top, Spears began her hour-long set with just a taste of the title track from her album.
Major Flirtation
The tease then turned into major flirtation with an audience member when she serenaded a male fan, dragged out og the crowd by two of her female dancers, with the ballad Born To Make You Happy.
After Spears changed into her second outfit of denim overalls, she sat down on the staircase to sing From The Bottom Of My Broken Heart to a former, unnamed beau. But just as the audience had settled in their seats, the singer returned in an eye-popping ensemble of black leather bustier, short shorts and boots for the Madonna and Jackson covers, plus Sonny and Cher's The Beat Goes On.
Unfortunately, Spears was at her sappiest when she next attempted Journey's Open Arms, explaining that's how she felt towards her fans because ``you embraced me and for that I am so grateful.''
The final two songs of the night - Spears biggest hits so far, Sometimes and ...Baby One More Time - went a long way to erasing that painful memory. Especially the encore, which saw the singer change into her now famous ``naughty schoolgirl'' outfit of black, thigh-high stockings, a sequined plaid skirt and a shiny pink top that barely covered her black bra and know.
Opening acts
Opening for Spears were no fewer than three acts, including up-and-coming Montreal duo Sky, made up of singer/songwriter/producers and multi-instrumentalists James and Antoine.
Their polished R&B and urban-flavoured pop was reminiscent of `70s-era Earth, Wind & Fire-style funk, but with a considerably less flamboyant delivery.
During their half-hour set, Sky and their four-person band played selections from their double-platinum debut, Piece Of Paradise, including the thre hit singles - Push, Love Song, and Some Kinda Wonderful
James, who had been suffering from a cold last week, was less animated tahn his dancing, hip-shaking partner Antoine, who picked up a bass when not singing harmony. Not that James' lack of movement seemed to matter to the audience, who designated him the heartthrob of the duo, juding from their screams.
Ottawa, ON - WordPerfect Theatre
OTTAWA - Britney Spears helped transform the Corel Centre's WordPerfect Theatre into one giant teen pyjama party last night.
Since launching her first North American tour in Washington, DC, a week ago, the 17-year-old Spears has risen from Mousketeer glory to monster hit queen with her debut, ...Baby One More Time. It's sales are closing in on the five-time platinum mark since the CD's January release.
And the mostly-female teen and pre-teen capacity crowd at the Corel Centre last night couldn't be happier, letting out a loud screamfest that shattered any remote chance, of say, thinking.
Six energetic dancers broke out of black-boxes, then flashing lights froze when Spears appeared at the top of a staircase, teasing us with the album's title track.
Kicking off with (You Drive Me) Crazy, the young and busty Spears, wearing her pink latex tube top had one credo for the night: ``Are you ready to party?''
Taking a page out of Paula Abdul School of Dance, Spears provided a party filled with flashy, well-choreographed dancing, taking the emphasis away from her set's forgettable melodies and muddy acoustics.
Screaming Crowd
But hey, the idea was to come by and have some fun. No question, the screams of pre-teens obsessed with Spears confirmed they had latched on to her plan.
The vocal-cord exercise didn't stop with Spears.
With their polished R&B and urban-flavoured pop, Montreal band Sky comprised of singers James (the blond hair) and Antoine (the bald head and bass) brought shrieks of joy with dancing galore and melodies aplenty from their debut Piece of Paradise, which is nearing double-platinum sales in Canada.
Joined by a funky trio heavy on the Earth, Wind, and Fire inspiration, Sky had the kids in the capacity crowd shaking glow sticks as the group churned out hit singles Push, Some Kind Of Wonderful and, their first No. 1, Love Song. Short on originality in the title department (yes, these are their own songs), but long on capturing something resembling a melody.
Bubbledum Quotient
The remaining two acts, hoever, raised the bubblegum quotient considerably with only their cheers coming across live. The music - and the singing, for that matter - might as well have programmed a Top 40 GM station and blaried it through the speakers.
STEPS, five young Brits dressed in bright yellow and white, demonstrated a better ability at playing elementary substitute teachers (``Everyone show your fingers - can you do that?'', `We're called STEPS. Who are we again?'') than at seemingly lip-synching through their too-well programmed set featuring the ABBA-esque One For Sorrow and Heartbeat.
Even their spot-on cover of the Bee-Gees' Tragedy lacked any soulful ingredient. But recognizing this is a hockey arena, they managed to get the crowd to complete a ``wave.''
Sadly, newly christened twent something Michael Fredo was but a memory with his mini-set - just long enough to see him toss his Tommy Hilfiger shirt into the crowd and show off his young abs.
Did I just hear you scream?

Edmonton, AB - Skyreach Centre
EDMONTON - You can claim that Britney Spears has fake breasts, that she's a naughty girl for displaying her assets in Rolling Stone, that she acts too big for her britches, but you can't doubt her potential as an entertainer - not after last night's spectacle in the Skyreach Centre.
Backed by as much production as money can buy and costume changes each more revealing than the last, the 17-year-old pop Lolita stages what was more like an hour-long music video than a pop concert. I could go on about the facile, boy-obsessed messages in her songs, the contrived, Disney-esque feel of the whole act, but I don't have the heart. For many of the 9,600 young fans last night, this was undoubtedly their first concert. Suffice to say that Spears wowed the crowd.
It all started with a crack squad of dancers playing a little schoolhouse shtick, setting stage for Britney's Big Entrance. Resplendent in white pants and a pink tube top, Spears teased us with a truncated verison of the title track of her album ...Baby One More Time. (The ``...'' stands for ``hit me''), before launching into (You Drive Me) Crazy. And she did, too.
Shouts of ``I love you, Britney!'' soon erupted from the crowd. You see, there are two types of Spears fans: Little girls, for whom she is a role model, and older boys, for whom Britney is simply a model. Boy, what a model! By the time Spears went into the cover portion of the show - Madonna's Material Girl, Janet Jackson's Nasty, Sonny and Cher's The Beat Goes On (a song written 15 years before she was born) - she was wearing a skirt shorter than the attention span of a five year old on a sugar binge. A good portion of the crowd went wild in more ways than one.
The show was a fast-paced affair. One moment she's laying on the candy floss with From the Bottom of My Broken Heart to some hapless ``cutie'' pulled up from the audience. A moment later, she's cavorting with her solid gold dancers. Along with a mean-looking band (but was it live or was it Memorex?), the choreography was one of the best parts of the show. The dancers were terrific.
As I said, it was like a music video. This is an act that wouldn't be out of place in Las Vegas.
``This is the first tour of my very own,'' Spears told the crowd at one point. ``And I made one rule: You have to have fun.'' Based on the ear-splitting chees her first Edmonton show received, the rule remained unbroken.
Not much can be said about the first of three opening acts, Michael Fredo - a guy who must've failed the `N Sync casting call. Next!
Up second, Steps was horrible in a perky sort of way: Up With ABBA. This co-ed fivesome is called Steps ``because we have dance routines for each of our singles.'' Novel concept. Birney's dancers blew them off the stage. As for the!
Sky looked brilliant compared to the first two acts. The Montreal duo - James (the blond, singing one) and Antoine (the bald, posing one) - funked up songs from their debut album, Piece of Paradise with more cool than soul. The result was like Earth & Wind (not so much Fire), but the crowd loved Sky all the same.
Calgary, AB - Pengrowth Saddledome
CALGARY - Oh, baby, baby!
She may have sang You Drive Me Crazy, but it was bubble-gum singing sensation Britney Spears who drove thousands of screaming fans crazy at the Saddledome last night.
The 17-year-old pop princess gave the crowd - which was almost evenly split between adoring girls and lusty boys - what they wanted: A flashy, splashy extravaganza featuring all her biggest hits.
Both of them.
Wearing a pink tube-top that revealed the most famous midriff since Shania Twain's, the scintillating superstar teased the crowd by descending to the stage while a snippet of Baby One More Time boomed across the venue.
She began her set with the heavy dance beat of (You Drive Me) Crazy and later on in the show, made one young male fan a very happy fellow by inviting him onstage and serenading him with the gorgeous Born To Make You Happy.
``I can't believe it - that guys so lucky!'' one envious male fan shouted out.
I'll admit that Spears has strong stage presence and is a natural entertainer, but her voice isn't particularly stunning and her songs - like the insipid Sometimes - are disposable for the most part.
Spears will need more than a cute smile and a fancy light-show to follow up the success of her debut album, Baby One More Time.
But for the thousands of fans in the audience, many of whom were probably attending their first concert, Spears could do no wrong.
And sometimes, you can't get too cerebral about it - you just have to let the fun and energy of it all take you away.
Britney had great rapport crowd, who loved it when she ran across the stage from side to side, waving and blowing kisses.
``What's up, Calgary? I'm so excited to be here. This is my first tour on my own and there's only one rule - you have to have fun!'' she said between songs.
``Has anyone ever been in love?'' she asked before one ballad, triggering a chorus of screams.
Obviously, there was no lack of love for Britney last night in Calgary.
Tommy Jeans model Michael Fredo started the evening off on a rather mediocre note.
Dwarfed by a huge white Tommy Jeans logo backdrop, Fredo had the voice and the looks that made the young girls swoon and jealous guys hurled unprintable insults at him - especially when he ripped of his bright-yellow shirt to reveal his well-toned chest.
Unfortunately, Fredo's songs weren't quite as impressive.
They were vacuous and utterly forgettable. Even the bootie-shaking beauties who flanked the singer couldn't add much excitement to his unoriginal material.
British superstars Steps fared a little better, even though they spent half their set trying to teach the audience how to dance.
You see, the co-ed five-piece are called Steps because they have certain steps that are unique to each of their singles.
However, the crowd was too psyched and impatient to see the star of the show to concentrate, no matter how hard the perky quintet tried. But the group's unbelieveable energy works wonder for them.
They came across like five Young Canadians who had just been given a short pure adrenaline and a stack of Abba's entire back catalogue of recordings.
In fact, if you closed your eyes and listened to the group's final song, a cover of The Bee Gees' Tragedy, you could swear it was Benny, Bjorn, Agnetha and Frida together again.
Montreal's Sky seemed like the odd band out, but the duo's smooth, jazzy, R&B-flavoured pop proved to be a nice break in a night that was otherwise filled with tooth-rotting sweetness.
While they may not have the same well-rehearsed dance moves as Steps and Spears or the teen-dream looks of Fredo, Sky was certainly the most musically accomplished of all the acts.