Britney Spears at Arena, 6/22/11 (VIDEO)

Categories: Last Night
Luke Holwerda

Britney Spears Arena

Wednesday, June 22

When Britney Spears decides to stop touring, she should get a residency in Vegas.

Her Femme Fatale tour, which came to Glendale's Arena last night, was part concert, part cabaret, part circus, and part film. It almost made you forget Spears doesn't sing live.

If you can get past the fact the main attraction at a concert lip-synchs her songs, you would have had a ton of fun at the show. There were costume changes galore, fireworks and smoke, a huge two-story set, and plenty of skin.

Sure, there wasn't a band or anything at the packed (though not quite sold-out) show -- you don't really need real musicians when your tour is more about the eye candy than the music.

The true test of whether or not the show would be successful was the Britters' confidence and stage presence, and the 29-year-old brought it. She looked great, seemed genuinely happy and was on-point throughout the show

The theme went along with the title of the tour, casting Spears as a sexy, rogue criminal on the run. The story was documented in a mini-movie that was played throughout the show, making it a fun story to follow along throughout. It also gave her plenty of time for her myriad of costume changes, ranging from sparkly one-pieces that showed off lots of leg to Egyptian- and Japanese-themed outfits. She looked like a hottie with the body and exuded confidence.

She and her dozen or so dancers made good use of the stage, which included a two-story platform with a massive video screen broadcasting the film and live shots of the cast. If you were bored by her music, there was no way you could be bored by what was going on on-stage. There was a platform that brought Spears out over the crowd, a swing she sat on as a male dancer did acrobatics underneath, and a car with a built-in staircase. She even straddled a giant guitar to the audience's delight.

It was nice to see Spears remember her fans who still provide her with the means to put on such a big show. During current single "I Wanna Go," she brought a big, diverse group of fans on-stage to dance along with her, and a lucky man got a stripper-pole dance from Spears during "Lace and Leather".

It was all enough to make up for the lack of a band, and considering much of Spears' recent music is electronic-based anyway, she got away with it.

It was great to see Spears have such a good time, and she put a ton of energy into the routines. While most of the songs came from her current Femme Fatale album, she didn't disappoint and played many of her older hits as well. It was nice to hear them re-worked, such as the jazzy "If You Seek Amy," the sultry and Middle Eastern-inspired "Boys" and the sped-up "Toxic". She still managed to change it up a little with those songs, even though there was little improvisation in the set.

There was no way to not be entertained during the show, and the energy was upbeat and positive -- just like Spears is when she's at her best.

Luke Holwerd

If only opener Nicki Minaj had brought her A-game, as well. Minaj had to have been just as big of a draw for much of the crowd, and she got a 45-minute set to plow through her hits, both her solo stuff and songs she's had cameos on. It was one of the worst arena performances I've seen by someone of her popularity. It was lifeless, disjointed and robotic, and it's sad more talented rappers aren't up on the big stage she was.

Minaj has said she wants to get her feet wet opening for people before she headlines her own shows. When she does embark out on her own, she needs to act like she's actually invested in the performance. It was impossible to tell if Minaj was singing/rapping live or just mouthing to the backing track, because the few moments she spoke to the crowd, she was barely audible.

Her show was very weird, with a not-scary monster theme and lots of voiced-over dialogue. Minaj barely had crowd interaction, and there were a lot of breaks where she ran off-stage. For such a short set, you'd think she'd want to make the most of it and show off her voice, but she just moved like a zombie. The worst moment was her show closer, "Super Bass." She didn't even sing much of it, instead awkwardly grinding with one of her pre-pubescent-looking dancers.

Her stage set-up and props were also bizarre. For a lot of the show, she sat on a cheap-looking fold-out chair in the middle of the stage -- it was so odd. And she and her dancers tried to spray the crowd with silly string, but it just sputtered out and looked worse than something you'd see at a child's birthday party.

While Minaj should not be known for her writing talent, she is interesting to look at and seems to have a strong personality -- something that could have made for a fun set. To see it all watered down live was a major disappointment, and hopefully she'll take some cues from Spears for her own tour.

Personal Bias: I can't say I respect a singer who doesn't sing live. But this was at least my fourth time seeing Spears, and this was my favorite concert of hers.

The Crowd: Fans in their 20's who have grown up with Spears -- women and gay men.

Overheard in the crowd: "It's as annoying as a Scottsdale nightclub in here," my friend commented, based on the Spears wannabes milling around.

Random Notebook Dump: It's really sad that female icons today rely so much on sex to sell their sound. I saw way too many thighs and more cleavage than I needed to.

Set List:
Hold It Against Me
Up N' Down
Piece of Me
Big Fat Bass
How I Roll
Lace and Leather
If You Seek Amy
Gimmie More
(Drop Dead) Beautiful
He About to Lose Me
Don't Let Me Be the Last to Know
Baby One More Time
Trouble for Me
I'm a Slave 4 U
Burning Up (Madonna cover)
I Wanna Go
Toxic (encore)
Till the World Ends (encore)

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I think you got it backwards... britney hardly talked to the crowd....


ve said this before, but if you're thinking of running a group deal, you'd better figure out your customer retention and upsell strategies well in advance. In other words, what are the "parking, beer and hot dogs" at your establishment


Wait...there was no band. How then is this a concert? I think a billing of "dance performance" would be more accurate. For some reason, this reminds me of Milli Vanilli


I saw Britney at Glendale Arena years ago, and that show's sexual saturation (she pretended to masturbate on a bed!) was enough for me... Not to mention I bought her brand new album, gave it a fair chance, and it just plan sucks (and encourages HORRIBLE personalities in women). So I had no interest in seeing her this time around... That being said, I do really enjoy the way your review was written. I appreciate it's thoroughness and it's objectivity. Great job getting the entire set list (Jesus! Lip-synch or not, you gotta give her credit... she must've been tired after all of that!), and I really enjoyed the Personal Bias, The Crowd, Overheard in the crowd, & especially Random Notebook Dump... It really disgusts me that female pop stars almost always resort to basically being a celebrity stripper.


I think people are so used to slamming her for "lip syncing" that they don't know what to mention anymore...she did sing quite a few songs live as others have mentioned, she didn't have a band..but she did have two guys on stage with her who were "programming" her music, Nicki Minaj did have quite a lot of interaction with the fans I thought, she mentioned that she was just in Arizona and she loves the fans..she also said Arizona fan's are good looking too!   it was a decent review..I just wish people would get over the lip syncing part now...she really looked happy and she interacted with the crowd A LOT!!  it was the best concert in my opinion.


This review seems a little biased - more than a little. Britney did sing live - maybe she wasn't paying attention or too busy talking through it as the video indicates. The concept of the "Femme Fatale" tour states simply in its name it will be a showcase of "sex sells" - this isn't a new concept for Britney. Not many Pop Stars use a band. And as for the statement "overheard in the crowd" - since when does the crowd consist of your friend sitting next to you? Glad the New Times sent someone open minded and who enjoys pop music to this concert.


It's nice to see a journalist actually appreciate all the things that the fans appreciate about the show instead of taking the usual route of a critic and completely slamming her because they just don't get it or give her a chance. Thank you.


Except she's singing a good portion of this show live, so you might want to go back and check the facts on that one.

Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

"more talented rappers"

Now, there is something to shoot for... (pun intended)....

Ricki Rik4
Ricki Rik4

Absolutely! There is one thing this reporter got wrong. She did sing live about 50 percent of the show. Which this reporter did not mention on the review because Britney didnt lip sync the whole concert! She did have a back up track for most of the choruses. Also it was completely packed, but a couple of empty seats in the 200 section. Great show, it seems to me that this reporter must of been to close to the speakers because you could hear Britney sing live!

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