BRITNEY SPEARS SHOWS HER FANS, WHAT SHE'S GOT
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.
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 ...you know.
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.
BUBBLEGUM POP STAR SPEARS FANS WITH PARTY
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.
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.
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
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?