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Britney Spears: Looks great, less filling

britneyFor a look at Britney Spears’ show Sunday night at Philips Arena, check out our gallery:  http://projects.accessatlanta.com/gallery/view/music/britney-spears-071811/


The setup was grand – a busy stage stocked with metal scaffolding, stairs, a circular video screen and hydraulics.

The set list was curious – a cover of Rihanna’s “S&M” instead of another of her own numerous hits, even if she is on the remix?

The full but not-quite-sold-out audience was super-stoked – of course their heroine can never, ever be considered anything less than perfect.

And yet Britney Spears looked bored, a Robo-Barbie slogging through dance moves that used to crackle with confidence and singing (well, not really) a string of club thumpers virtually indistinguishable from one another.

But before going any further, let’s just say that Spears deserves enormous praise for enduring an insane amount of personal and professional pressure in recent years and for soldiering through the type of tabloid lifestyle no mere mortal could ever understand.

She looked terrific at Sunday’s Philips Arena show, toned and healthy in numerous belly-baring getups (sexy detective, sexy biker, sexy Egyptian princess – you get the point) and it is hoped she is winning every psychological battle in her roller coaster of a life.

That said, any artist who charges $100-plus for a decent seat (and up to $350 for the closest glimpses) really should deliver a jaw-dropping, emotionally searing performance and, while there was certainly plenty to look at during Spears’ 90-minute set, most of it was like a magician’s act, designed to distract from its ultimate hollowness.

It didn’t matter if she was mildly gyrating inside a rather shaky-looking metal cage during “Up n’ Down” or rising above the crowd on what looked like an upside-down bar stool for “Piece of Me,” with seven mostly bare-chested men writhing beneath her. Spears’ movements were always dispassionate, as if she knows the adrenaline from her aerobics class hits is enough to satisfy her worshipful fans.

That was most obvious during “Big Fat Bass,” a nonsensical song (“I can be your treble, baby, you can be my bass,” goes its chorus…whatever that means) designed for 3 a.m. drunken dance parties.

Obviously, there is no point in discussing singing at a Spears show because aside from the ballad “Don’t Let Me Be the Last to Know,” crooned in her reedy voice, any other “vocals” were their usual expert melding of processing and lip-synching. The complete lack of close-ups on any video screen guaranteed that the truth could never be determined.

Throughout the show, a running narrative about Spears as a “femme fatale” on the lam rolled whenever a set or costume change was needed. But aside from playing into the title of her latest album, which has spawned a trio of hits, it was merely another anemic distraction.

Despite Spears’ limited interaction with the audience (“What’s up, Atlanta??!!!?” and the invite for a handful of fans to dance onstage in her vicinity during “I Wanna Go” don’t really count), there are still a few sparks in her catalog which no amount of detached performances can erase.

The melody line of “Toxic,” the snaky funk of “I’m a Slave 4 U,” the pop purity of “…Baby One More Time” (which, criminally, got the one-verse treatment before segueing into Rihanna’s “S&M”) – they’re all career-defining songs for a reason.

But Spears has always thrived as a fabricated MTV doll, and, even as she approaches 30, that hasn’t changed.

Opener Nicki Minaj, meanwhile, had no issues with energy, as she fed off the hyperactive lighting throughout her set and delivered a stream of fiery raps.

Joined by six dancers, a drummer and keyboardist, Minaj, sporting a platinum wig, ripped though more than a dozen songs, including “Check It Out” and “Moment 4 Life.”

It’s always fun picking out the samples Minaj weaves into her songs (an Enya interlude featured Minaj play-battling a hooded figure in front of a pink lightning storm) and while you couldn’t always understand her lyrics if you didn’t already know them, the intoxicating beats usually compensated.

While watching Minaj stroll a catwalk while jubilantly shooting Silly String into the crowd during the set-closing “Super Bass,” it was impossible not to get zinged by her buzzy intensity.

Follow me on Twitter @ajclifestyle

Check out some video from Britney’s show here: http://bcove.me/1gq4o4×2

Also, this morning I had a fun debate with “super fan” Cassie from The Bert Show on Q100. Listen here: http://bit.ly/oajyXz

77 comments Add your comment

Widz

July 18th, 2011
4:51 am

You obviously have failed to do any relevant research before the show. She sings 40 per cent live, for Britney Spears that is great. This tour is one of her finest tours of her career and any fan would agree. She looks fantastic and her dancing has improved from her previous performances. Britney Spears is not merely a singer, but a performer and if you knew anything about her and knew how to simply compare and contrast you would soon realise the Femme Fatale tour is one of the best pop shows on offer in the past two years. The fans are more than happy with what they have received, critics like you however, want to find the bad in it all. P.s if inviting fans on stage to dance with and giving one lucky one a lap dance on each show isn’t enough fan interaction, I don’t know what is. No other pop artist does it like Britney Spears. Research would have changed this article. Yes I’m a fan and if I got chosen to go on stage and dance with her I would have been ecstatic. This show is more personal than her others, like I said if you did your research you would know that by now. :) .

Testosterone Tom

July 18th, 2011
5:37 am

Who cares about the music and singing….and I can think of a few other words to describe Spears’ body – “mind-numbing” might float pretty well – than merely “terrific.”

Joe C.

July 18th, 2011
5:45 am

Why is a woman of Melissa Ruggieri’s age even reviewing a Britney concert. From her picture, she’s obviously a woman nearing her 50’s and is not the demographic Britney is targeting. Therefore, Melissa, you should stick to doing reviews of musical acts from people closer to your age group. You are clearly not a fan, so why even go to the show????

Andy

July 18th, 2011
5:56 am

I don’t know what shocks me more, that people paid for tickets of Britney still tours?

george

July 18th, 2011
5:59 am

how do you “research” a live, except in the case of at least some vocals, show before it happens? isn’t a review supposed to encompass what actually happens. i can research beef all i want, but my restaurant review should be based on the steak i was served for dinner.

Michelle Norton

July 18th, 2011
6:06 am

I went to this concert with/for a close friend that is a huge Britney fan. We drove from Decatur, AL to see this show and as we discussed the show on our four hour drive home, I said basically the same thing as this article writer. Not trying to take anything away from Britney and her show – she’ll sell tickets to devoted fans for many many years to come.
I’m betting that 99.9% of folks that were there will never be any closer to her in real life than that moment. And it was so important to some that they paid 900+ dollars to be in her presence. Since we all know she’s pretty, can dance, has a great stage performance, is seductive to the audience at the right times, etc … why did we pay hard earned money to see the exact same things that we see on her videos and other recorded performances such as award shows and such? She should have been talking to us, making small talk, a comment or two of something that happens or has happened at home in her personal life, a story about the history of one of her big hits, just something, anything.
I’m hoping as time goes by she’ll ‘mature’ to a point where she realizes she doesn’t have to use all that fancy stage stuff she did tonight and that she’ll just sing. Can she sing? I really don’t know, based on what happened tonight. But I can tell ya, her performers were awesome! Great acrobats, dancers. It was very fun to watch. But as for the music, seen and heard all that on the radio and tv long before tonight.

shaggy

July 18th, 2011
6:22 am

You mean that people pay $100.00+ for tickets to this horse patootie???
PT Barnum was right, there really is a sucker born every minute.

With Love

July 18th, 2011
6:27 am

Oh.My.God – but it is Britney so she just squashed your review before you even had that “wise” idea to write it!! You are just another closet fan who still went to a Britney concert AND paid the “$100-plus for a decent seat” OR more obviously “up to $350 for the closest glimpses” just to satisfy your hidden love for Ms Spears.

Now stop feeding the internet with rubbish and find a real job (where you can save some money for your retirement) instead of wasting your capped time on earth writing reviews on pop stars half your age!

With love,

Idiot.

rod

July 18th, 2011
6:41 am

did she have her pyschologist and court appointed guardian in sight

Anthony Weiner

July 18th, 2011
6:53 am

She’s hot!

John Edwards

July 18th, 2011
6:55 am

I would like her to be in my next video…

;)

Baltisraul

July 18th, 2011
7:09 am

She is history at any priced ticket!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jerry

July 18th, 2011
7:16 am

Don’t you all think she is probably on some sort of mood stabilizing drugs?

BritBrit

July 18th, 2011
7:19 am

K Fed done rurint Brit Brit. Too many Cheetos and cigarettes does not a diva make.

aon

July 18th, 2011
7:21 am

Widz, she only sings 40% of the time! What about the other 60%? That is over half the show. At ticket prices upwards of $300 she should be singing at least 90% of the time. Anyway, wh cares? Those who buy her albums and go to her concerts are buying a manufactured package. She has no real talent other than creating jobs for the paparazzi.

aon

July 18th, 2011
7:26 am

Joe, seriously? It is foolish young kids who spend their hard wasted money on subpar talent. When you’ve been around (50 is not that old!) you will begin to recognize real talent. Van Halen, Eric Clapton, Cheap Trick, Poison, Crowded House, Styx, Tina Turner…examples of real talent.

JASon

July 18th, 2011
7:44 am

I am shocked that there are that many people that are still going to see britney spears. Especially in this economy.

walter

July 18th, 2011
7:45 am

So people admit that Britney lip syncs her shows and yet they’re ok with this? What’s the point of paying $100 – $350? Just stay home and watch her videos. Same effect, less money.

When I pay for a show, I expect to hear the artist sing live, not electronically. Research would show that artists who perform live, as in really perform live, give a more dynamic and better show than people who simply lip sync and hide behind other dancers and a big light show.

JustMyOpinion

July 18th, 2011
7:45 am

I took my daughter to this concert, and was very disappointed with Brittney’s performance. And I’m not 50 (which is still young)!! After the rap chick finished, it became dull and boring. I asked my daughter on the way home did she enjoy the concert? She responded, “I’ve seen her videos, so this was old.” Oh well, I thought, atleast it wasn’t because I was to old that I didn’t enjoy it.

oreary?

July 18th, 2011
7:49 am

wow, widz… you told her!

It sounds like you have an unhealthy addiction for BS (Brittany Spears)

By the way, how many shows of hers have you seen? How many of her tours have you been to?

Big Dawg

July 18th, 2011
7:51 am

Hey Widz

someone should not have to do research to know if a show was good. It should just be good on it’s own merits. She is a hack live and a has been…….NEXT

cbgb

July 18th, 2011
8:02 am

Excellent review. Granted not what you’d get from Tiger Beat or a fawning fan but well worded and objective. Hoohah begs to be deconstructed and BS is past the glory days of $100 – 350 seats.

Mike

July 18th, 2011
8:06 am

Britney was a big disappointment last night. She really seems kinda bored and just going through the motions. She danced a little – but I’ll really give props to her troupe of dancers behind her. THEY were pretty amazing.

Musiclover

July 18th, 2011
8:29 am

This is not about Britney or liking her or disliking her or her music, or comparing her old and new material. This is the question: Are you getting your money’s worth? And more importantly, is this artist earning your support? I think most performers love what they do and go out and give it their all. Sometimes they give classic performances, some may not go as well as they liked. But I think even with those less than perfect performances, fans come away feeling satisfied and happy that their favorite artists tried their best. These are the same complaints people had about Britney’s “Circus” tour and I’ve seen some performances on TV that I thought were beneath her. FOR SEVERAL YEARS NOW. Come on – if an artist isn’t feeling it anymore, they should retire. You shouldn’t do tours and albums just to make money or to stay out of trouble. Believe me, people can tell. And you can be a fan of an artist and love their music and feel comfortable calling them out on their crap. The R.Kellys, the Erykay Badus, the Lauryn Hills, the Ushers and the Britneys are screwing their fans – that have supported them for years and made them rich – and it’s just wrong. Because believe me, there are artists out there – no matter what genre music you like – who go out there and give it their all and go into the studio and try their hardest. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. But they tried.

tom

July 18th, 2011
8:37 am

All the stupid people who pay good money to see a fake star who can’t sing live and the know it or should is beyond me. She needs to do porno where all she has to do is moan and groan. That would not reqjuire lip-syncing.

Melissa Ruggieri

July 18th, 2011
8:37 am

Hey Joe – you know, age of the reviewer is irrelevant. Good is good. Mediocrity is mediocrity. I thought Nicki Minaj was great, and she’s younger than Britney. And while I appreciate you bringing me much closer to retirement age, I sadly still have a few decades to go.

Cheers,
Melissa

Spanky

July 18th, 2011
8:38 am

For $350, Britney better give me a happy ending… I don’t care if she fakes it :-)

Becky Wish

July 18th, 2011
8:45 am

Butch Carpetmuncher, July 18th, 2011 @6:30 am. Did you really post that? I bet you are a piece of trash living in a piece of trash trailer. You’re an idiot.

Geoff

July 18th, 2011
8:46 am

Joke..should have just played her videos on the big screen. She’s eye candy and that can dance when she feels like it. There’s more talent begging for money at the Braves games.

Becky Wish

July 18th, 2011
8:47 am

Isn’t Brittney considered on the B-List now? She has some serious loyalty from her fans for that kind of money.

Can she actually sing?

July 18th, 2011
8:49 am

I still have yet to hear an actual recording by her where you actually hear her true voice. All her songs are engineered with special effects to the point where it sounds like she is ’singing’ through some weird contraption. Can she actually sing???

All Smilez

July 18th, 2011
9:04 am

@Becky Wish – thanks and glad it wasn’t just me. I mean what an idiot! Butch Carpetmuncher should just crawl back under his or her rock. As for Britney – just too bad. I pray she gets it together and continues to do well in her personal life.

Rich

July 18th, 2011
9:09 am

Britney is Britney, you either love her or hate her. People don’t go to her shows (or buy her CD’s) to hear her less than golden pipes, they go to her shows to be entertained. I spent $20 on my ticket and felt I got my money’s worth. Was this show worth $100+? No. But overall the show was good. On the flip side of things, I wasn’t all that impressed with Nicki Minaj, like Britney, I was wondering “Is she really singing?” I guess it’s a bad sign when you’re wondering is an artist is singing or lip-syncing…good thing about Atlanta, there is something for everyone, so go get tickets to see Sia or Alison Krauss (just to name a few), even though their shows will be absent of spectacle and fluff, their voice is enough to entertain.

A+A

July 18th, 2011
9:10 am

joe.c, I would remind you that Pauline Kael was listening to NWA at her death.
Britney Spears has always been a commodity, one that has lost value every year. The reviewer got it right.

Sam

July 18th, 2011
9:31 am

Britney has always been most admirable for her firm, not too skinny legs and resultant derriere, or maybe it’s the other way around. She’s genetically solid in that department. And who doesn’t like a black-eyed blond. Other than that, she’s a no-talent hack like Lady Ka Ka.

SUICIDAL FOR LIFE!!!!1

c

July 18th, 2011
9:39 am

Britney was certainly not her 18 year old self but after two kids, and a public melt down she is certainly still a FANTASTIC entertainer and still Queen of pop. I loved the concert and my $350 was well spent for a night of fun. I agree why would the AJC even try to understand something they apparently don’t care too much about by sending a reporter who obviously wasn’t objective. i would also wonder why any of these people even bothered going. Nicki Minaj was also great on stage. I would sa the reviewer missed the mark of this concert and possibly any concert.

Charence

July 18th, 2011
9:51 am

I am a big Britney fan and brought my daughter and her friend who are also big fans, but I will have to say that I was a bit disappointed with the dancing and do agree that she just wasn’t into it. Perhaps, she was under the whether, but I do agree with some of the comments in the article. I am not really sure that I care much about the lip syncing – the experience of the show was great. However, I must say that her interaction with the crowd was less then I had hoped for and we were a bit disappointed that she played for 1 hour and 15 minutes and played many songs that just weren’t our favorites. She did have a great line up before her – in fact we even enjoyed Jessie and the Toy Boys, but as said above – it was fun to see Britney in person and good to see her back on her feet again.

Fister

July 18th, 2011
9:52 am

Spears has become a sad joke and a no talent ass clown that does not write her own music. Why would anyone want to see her lip sync? When I go to a concert I expect.. gee I don’t know a band playing a song. I know I’m weird that way. Lady Gaga sings, plays instruments and dances at her shows. Did u see Lady Gaga perform in Japan?! Makes Spears look like a washed up has been.

Vladimir Sonovabitch

July 18th, 2011
9:53 am

Hot woman. Bring top money in Russian sex trade. Singing a bonus.

jade

July 18th, 2011
10:12 am

It’s so simple, if you’re a fan then of course you will like what britney does but if you’re not then you’ll slam everything she does and criticize her to your heart content and of course compare her to the artist you like. It’s so damn irritating. If you don’t have something nice to tell, why bother comment. It’s too obvious that Melissa Ruggieri is not a fan!!! Stop it! Why can’t you admit the fact that Britney’s back!!! And she has nothing against any of you. If you don’t like her, don’t watch her. Period!!!

GStateAlum

July 18th, 2011
10:19 am

I went to the concert last night with my big sis, her bf, and her bf’s little sis. My sister and I grew up listening to Britney and loved her even when she went through her earlier trials. Last night was definitely a bonding experience and we loved the show. We all agreed that it was one of the best concerts we’ve been to hands down. This reporter was right about 2 things: Nicki was awesome and high-energy and there was alot to look at on stage. Both performers were great, Nicki and Britney.

As far as Britney is concerned, I’m just thinking that I’m ok with her singing only 40% of the show live (even though I was there and heard her clearly singing and ad-libbing on all the songs) b/c with a tour like her’s and as busy as she is, that would be straining on her vocal chords to sing loud enough on every song and every lyric for an entire 90 minutes while dancing like she did. I know she’s a performer, but she’s also only human. I sang in high school so I can understand that if she did sing her entire set list she would eventually loose most of her energy to dance well and entertain the audience after about half of the show. She is touring, so she only has a few days in between her shows to rejuvenate and essentially she has to ration her energy, I could imagine. I say, give her some credit. I’m a long time Britney fan, but not hard core, and I thought last night she was on fire, had energy throughout the show and had good vocals. To call the show “hallow” is interesting to me in my opinion, because with everything going on on stage and yet it still being britney-focused and album-focused I’d say that it was more dynamic than any other concert i’ve been to. I agree with the person who said that we need to remember that she is more than just a singer, she is a performer/entertainer. She performed and I was entertained.

ADL

July 18th, 2011
10:20 am

$100-350 for 60% lip-synching??? Sadly, this is what passes for “live” entertainment now. Anyone remember when a band/singer came out and did a two hour show with encores? Didn’t depend on AutoTune, dancers or props? For less than 15 bucks? Yes, I am over 50 and you can call me an old f**t if you want to, but remember that I am laughing at you for wasting a lot of money on very attractive, but marginally talented people who sing through machines.

Matt

July 18th, 2011
10:30 am

Who knew the “leave Britney alone” ummm “guy” was living in Atlanta and posting under the name Widz. Nobody should brag about a performer singing 40% of their set. That’s insulting to the audience. Nothing wrong with a backing track carrying the chorus so the performer can dance and shout to the crowd, but only singing 40% of your set??!! That’s pathetic. They should offer a tour where a look-alike dances to the music for a fraction of the price then.

Chad

July 18th, 2011
10:40 am

Say what y’all want about her singing, performances or whatever. But to say she is a has-been or washed up is a joke. Tell that to possibly the largest and most dedicated fan base of any singer or performer. No one sells like Britney, and she is way past her peak (2001, anyone?!). Name another artist who, 10 years after their peak, is still selling out tours and CD’s. Don’t say Madonna, she can barely sell a CD now (unless you’re referring to touring, that she can sell). Lady Gaga? She is currently at her peak, and still can’t sell like Britney did. And the dancing? Name another pop artist who even tries to get out and dance like she does. Not Katy Perry, Ke$ha, or Rihanna. Lady Gaga? I’m a fan, but really she is a terrible dancer. And to think, these ladies were mere babies when Britney was the “it” girl. Oh wait… when wasn’t she?

Nathan

July 18th, 2011
10:41 am

Maybe she doesnt like Atlanta because at the MN show she was dancing like crazy! She doesnt have to be dancing constantly! I watched videos for other pop shows Rihanna, katy perry…um…BORING. Britney still dances way more and her dancers are mostly male in their early 20s and ripped. Why do people expect her to be flipping around doing acrobatics too? Thats not her job…Her dancing was on point and elegant and to say otherwise is ignorant. NONE of you can dance like her so get over it.

TKB

July 18th, 2011
10:43 am

Honestly, I think the review by Melissa Ruggieri is spot on! I too am a big Britney fan and was determined to get to one of her shows even though deep down I knew they could not match her shows of old. Yes, she looks great. Yes, she is still doing it despite the All that’s she been through. HOwever, last night she looked like she was practicing for a dress rehearsal and not giving her all like she use to do. Even with the overplayed arm choreography, she wasn’t punching it so one in the audience could feel her moves or energy for that matter. I almost felt like pulling the plug on her half-ass rendition of Hit Me Baby!!! I was like you could at least do the whole song, Brit! The life was gone from her step and with her not even being 30 yet I am left to question, since she is not known for her singing but was known to truly entertain, how much longer will she survive with this subpar show?
-disappointed fan

carla

July 18th, 2011
10:44 am

Reading the comments here makes me really sad for the state of music. I remember when paying for a concert ticket ment you were going to a LIVE performance. The vocals, the instruments…all live. If you were lucky that favorite band would take your favorite song on a spontanious ride that would change the song for just that one night. Instead of listening to the recording at home, it was part of the experience of the show to see how well the vocals could pull off certain notes live vs what they accomplished in a studio. The bands personalized their shows at least to the point that if they were in Atlanta, they said something relatable to the time, the place. They made the crowd feel a part of their scene, if just for a couple of hours. Now people are satisfied with a FAKE? And in this economy will pay upwards $350 to see her? Wow, I guess I’d rather see the circus. Same show, cheaper seats.

And for to the poster who complained that poor Brit can’t be expected to sing AND dance for 1 hour and 15 minutes on a concert tour. Ever heard of a little band called Areosmith? Steven Tyler MOVES and SINGS and occasionally plays a little harmonica…for almost two hours straight. He also engages the crowd. His vocals are also almost always SPOT ON PERFECT. This is just one example of the MANY arena shows from the 80-90’s where we expected to be entertained for our money and see real musical talent. Sounds like Brit needs to concentrate on doing some dance shows instead of trying to pretend to be a musician.

Ryan

July 18th, 2011
10:47 am

I was there and it was amazing. Honestly a really great show. I don’t know how she does what she does tbh. Best concert I have ever been to possibly, and I have been to a lot.

Bryant

July 18th, 2011
10:51 am

I have been a fan of Britney Spears from the start. I went to this concert as I have every other tour she has had. You can always pick out the tried and true fans because they are the ones standing there in the arena following her every move and mouthing the words to every song much like she mouths them herself. We don’t go to her concerts to hear her sing although when she rarely does it is an added bonus. We go to see her perform and last night she did just that.

Her fans love her just like every star has fans that love them. I am sure all the haters on here could name a concert they have beeen to and someone else would say, “Why would you pay money for that?”. Quite simply because you wanted to.

[...] And yet Britney Spears looked bored, a Robo-Barbie slogging through dance moves that used to crackle with confidence and singing (well, not really) a string of club thumpers virtually indistinguishable from one another. Read more… [...]