Thu, March 05, 2009
Entertainment > Music > Britney returns to stage

Britney returns to stage after five years

2009-03-05 09:09:45 GMT2009-03-05 17:09:45 (Beijing Time)

Britney Spears in a metallic all-in-one

Britney kicked off proceedings in a ringmaster ensemble as she sang Circus

Britney fans herself on stage as she dances in her raunchiest outfit of the night - a sequinned leotard complete with nipple tassels

Britney performed as the 'amazing tattooed woman' with the help of a patterned body-suit

Britney sings Piece Of Me from her gilded cage

She went from cheeky police officer to ringmaster, cabaret queen to showgirl.

Perhaps Britney Spears was exploring different sides of her personality at her comeback show. Then again, she may have just been trying to find the right costume to flatter what is a rather fuller figure these days.

The 27-year-old singer's fans didn't seem to mind. More than 16,000 were there to welcome her back in New Orleans for her first tour for five years.

For what insiders described as her last chance to prove she can still compete in the pop world alongside the likes of Madonna and Kylie Minogue, the singer pulled out all the stops.

Well, almost. She didn't sing live during the high-octane act, but instead dazzled the crowd with a dozen costume changes - one more revealing than the next - elaborate dance routines and even the odd smoke and mirrors magic trick.

The Louisiana performance, the first of her 44-date Circus tour, was widely deemed a success by fans, but critics were less enthusiastic, citing her lip-syncing as a notable disappointment.

In between sets, there was little interaction with the crowd, but Britney did say 'thank you New Orleans, you have a good night' after her encore.

Nearly all the tickets for the 90 minute show last night were sold out, which marked Britney's first return to the stage since her Onyx Hotel tour in 2004.

The failure to sell all the tickets could be to do with the fact that some were going for as much as $750, a hefty price to pay during an economic crisis.

While admitting the show was quite the spectacular, critics said they were expecting more from the singer vocally and from her dance moves.

Los Angeles Times critic Ann Powers wrote: 'Her singing was dominated by a backing track.

'Her moves were nothing special - defined by much strutting and stripper-like shimmying, with the minimum amount of acrobatics to prove her mettle as a dance-pop queen.'

MTV's James Montgomery said: 'At times, Britney herself is almost dwarfed by the spectacle... She brought the circus to her hometown, and it was a huge, sold-out, screaming success.

'It probably just would've benefitted from a little more Britney Spears, that's all.'

USA Today's critic Jerry Shriver added: 'A comeback, certainly, and a solid one at that.

'But all the sex, fire and stomp-and-slither choreography can't disguise the fact that the production needs a bigger, purely musical core (a few more songs from the current album would have helped) - and some spontaneity.'

Britney put her clean-cut image of the late Nineties firmly in the past as she writhed on stage with her male dancers in the bondage-themed show

Britney showed off her curves in a series of lingerie, including a metallic robot-style corset for I'm A Slave 4 U and a transparent bodysuit.

Descending on stage on hoops suspended by wires to the strains of her new album's title track Circus, Britney took charge of proceedings in a ringmaster's outfit as she lashed out with her whip.

On her head, was a flamboyant cheetah feather headdress, designed by Dsquared designers Dean and Dan Caten.

Next up, was her 2008 hit Piece Of Me, for which Britney stripped down to a pair of PVC hotpants and Swarovski crystal-studded bra as she showed off her pole-dancing skills before launching into Radar.

Taking inspiration from Stanley Kubrick film Eyes Wide Shut, Britney writhed around on stage in a sparkly leotard with her modesty protected with some PVC nipple tassels.

During one song, she gave a lapdance to a clown and pretended to fondle her male dancers.

She was accompanied by a team of dancers and circus acts, including trapeze artists, fire-breathers and jugglers.

During one of her new tracks Hot As Ice, Britney played saucy assistant to 'misfit of magic' Edward Alonzo, who made the singer disappear.

In the freakshow section, Britney revisited the Victorian sideshow acts as she dressed as a tattooed woman in a patterned bodysuit.

During a raunchy performance of Slave 4 U, Britney added some extra spark with jets of fire around the stage.

Britney closed the show with a pyrotechnic spectacular to Womanizer and a reprise of Circus dressed as a sexy police sergeant.

While the singer looked understandably exhausted, she looked clearly thrilled to be back on stage after her long hiatus.

Britney is hoping the tour will cement her comeback after a difficult few years, which saw her shave her head, have a messy custody battle with ex-husband Kevin Federline and was hospitalised twice for psychiatric evaluation.

Ahead of Britney's performance, The Pussycat Dolls got crowds in the mood for her sexy show with their own brand of burlesque pop.

They performed a 35 minute set, which included their hits Don't Cha, StickWitU and When I Grow Up.

Britney has been hard at work getting her body back after her out-of-shape appearance at the 2007 MTV Music Video Awards.

She has spent months in the dance studio practicing for the tour with the help of choreographers JaQuel Knight - who choreographed Beyonce Knowles's Single Ladies - and Tony Testa.

The Circus tour runs for four months and covers the US, Canada and England, with plans to expand to the rest of Europe.

She will perform six gigs in London's O2 arena from June 3 to 14, Mail Online reported.

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