Review and photos – Britney Spears Femme Fatale Tour at Rogers Arena, Vancouver, July 1 2011
– by Shawn Conner/photos by Ryan West
Snobbery will only get you so far when it comes to pop music. At some point, you have to just shrug and say, “If it’s catchy, shiny and completely artificial, count me in.”
At this point, with seven albums to her credit, Spears is both a survivor and an old pro at this. You expect nothing less than a big, full-on show with one elaborately choreographed pop hit after another, and Spears and her dancers did not disappoint.
Whether straddling a giant electric guitar or riding around in a pink convertible, Spears was a non-stop dynamo onstage, never pausing for breath (or to actually sing, for that matter – okay, requisite lip-syncing joke: check).
Costume changes, including a gold outfit that might have been designed by Conan the Barbarian, fabulously toned dancers who looked like friends from Mouseketeer days and ever-changing sets (loved the cartoon-y backdrop for “How I Roll” off Femme Fatale) meant there was never any lack of spectacle.
As for the music, well – no surprises there, except maybe how strong the set was (and how ridiculously catchy and fun “How I Roll”, off the new album, is). With over a half-dozen albums and numerous hit singles to draw from, Spears put together a set that was a reminder of just how many professionally crafted and effective pop songs she’s unleashed on the charts.
You didn’t need to be a fan to enjoy the silly yet slick double entendre of “Hold It Against Me” or the ridiculous but fun “Till the World Ends”, both Femme Fatale songs, and which opened and closed the night respectively.
And those weren’t even the hits everyone wanted to hear: “Toxic”, “Womanizer”, and “… Baby One More Time” (which segued into Rihanna’s “S&M”, as though to remind us of who’s still the boss) were all performed, two weeks into the tour, with the pep and precision of numbers in a Broadway musical. Which is exactly what the show most reminded me of – though without the plot.
But who needs a storyline onstage when you’ve got Brit with her stripper-mom bod, some of the coolest sets in pop music and all those hits? She even covered “Burning Up” while straddling that aforementioned giant electric guitar, thus saluting both Madonna and Cher (from her canon-straddling days) in one horny package.
Come to think of it, there was a through-line of sorts, in the form of some footage of some Eurotrash dude in some kind of surveillance camera room. The footage was interspersed between songs, probably to loosely connect our heroine’s “journey”, but his words were mostly unintelligible and I just figured it wasn’t anything that would reward close attention.
I’m not sure what I expected going in, but I came away from the Femme Fatale show thoroughly satisfied and entertained – there wasn’t a dull moment in the whole 90 minutes, and that’s saying something. Look elsewhere if you want musical substance; if you want a bunch of hits, flashy eye-candy and a good time, call Brit. The pop princess is back.
As for the openers, I only managed to catch one song by blonde Jessie. But the Nicki Minaj set was great fun as the singer cavorted with six dancers and did battle with some imaginary foe named Nemesis. I didn’t quite know what was going on, sort of like how I felt watching Green Lantern. But the set was enjoyably nonsensical nonetheless, and I do like Minaj quite a bit – not enough performers like to make goofy faces, and then put those images on T-shirts.
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