Britney Spears's Femme Fatale Tour
With Nicki Minaj, Jessie and the Toy Boys, and Nervo
American Airlines Arena
Friday, July 22, 2011
Better Than: A cherry Blow Pop.
Forget Britney Spears for a second. Just for a second.
Last night, at the American Airlines Arena, the star of the Femme Fatale show was the singer's spectacular set, costumes, and dancers. The designers of this production are nothing less than geniuses.
Somehow they managed to make the bubblegum pop star and dance goddess look almost, dare we say it ... Cool? Yes, cool's a strong word. But it's hard to put it any other way.
Not every outfit was the hippest. But who thought it would be? Not every move was the shizz. But, like duh, it's Britney. Honestly, the whole shebang came together surprisingly to create a scene that was stylish and not too corny.
For instance, before Brit's routine, the title of her tour -- Femme Fatale -- was written in lights, huge yet tasteful, in a pretty script. It had a Broadway sensibility without being too melodramatic. One of the tour t-shirts was even really cute, like wearable and simple, sans Spears's face and stuff. It's almost like someone with style knew what they were doing with this one.
As the sign rose to reveal the set, the tense excitement in the room was so intense that it would make even the most bitter old queen giddy with anticipation.
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It quickly became clear that there was a lot of lip synching going on. Spears only sang one song, "Don't Let Me Be the Last to Know." We're not her microphone. But it was obvious. Her dance moves were far from strenuous. So it was like: She's not dancing. She's not singing. What's she doing?
Well, she's being Britney fucking Spears is what she's doing! And the crowd loves Britney fucking Spears. People were wearing her shirts. Some were in costume. We even met a male Brit impersonator who looked identical to the singer.
The video narrative that was screened between songs was a bit convoluted, hard to hear, and corny. It cast Spears as an international spy, a femme fatale, and featured a man obsessed with the singer and Blow Pops. Sort of funny?
The show took Spears and her dancers through a variety of countries and eras. The recurring theme was this femme fatale bit, with Brit being chased by male authority figures, usually cops. Spears and her hired girls fought back with their sex appeal, of course.
During "Up N' Down," five of Britney's ladies, each in their own jail cells, danced while the cages bounced up and down. All the dancers seemed to escape at some point. But only Spears remained trapped in hers the whole time. Symbolic of something larger? Who knows ... It was easy on the eyes.
Several times, Spears was placed in a harness and swung up high in a lift or contraption. And sometime around "Big Fat Bass," the dancers came out dragging huge speakers studded with red lights. Spears was placed inside one of them, and emerged to blow our eardrums. It was loud up in there.
The dancers were dressed in tasteful neon colors, which is not an easy task. Their outfits popped but didn't overwhelm. It wasn't ironic. It wasn't overly sincere. The choreography was like Martha Graham breakdancing with a healthy dose of athletics. This song, like most of Spears's set last night, included a dubstep breakdown that melded well with the rest of the music.
During "How I Roll," a car that looked like a Mini Cooper came out and unfolded as a stage, they brought a guy, Jason, the most normal looking dude ever, from the audience to sit there while two girls and one dude danced all sexy on him. The crowd laughed, you know, 'cause there was a guy. Spears straddled his neck from behind with her knees. The audience went nuts. The singer was sexy, dancing a few times with men, but not tastelessly or explicitly. The whole show was pretty PG-13 compared to her "Baby One More Time" video.
The most impressive part of the Femme Fatale show was the Egyptian/River Styx-themed set for "Gimme More." This giant beautiful "boat" came out with the dancers. Fireworks lit up the arena. It was, again, tasteful and breathtaking.
Spears was friendly with the crowd, thanking Miami about five million times. That was pretty much all she said to us. Her last two songs were the most impressive. A Japanese scene for "Toxic" included beautiful short kimonos with graphic designs and samurais wearing black outfits with white streaks on them. It was like an ad for Marimekko with these fabrics. They brought down the house with "Till the World Ends," which included pyrotechnics, tons of confetti, and Spears floating toward and above the audience wearing giant angel wings.
Let's not forget about Nicki Minaj. She kept it fun, not filthy for the Spears fans, although she had a ton of her own in the crowd. People came out to see Minaj, wearing her shirts, flying to South Florida from around the country.
She had two impressive surprise guests join her onstage: Miami's own Trina and Sean Kingston. Minaj was fun and had a good energy, bouncing around and actually rapping. But someone should have let her borrow some of Spears' extravagant stage. It was a little bare up there.
After Kingston joined her for "Letting Go (Dutty Love)," she announced, "I'm so glad Sean Kingston is alive and well," before segueing into a crowd favorite. "I know my gay boys are in here tonight," she yelled out. "But where my girls at?" Everyone screamed.
Her set also included a goofy narrative. She was a warrior sent to defeat the evil force Nemesis. Instead of Spears's lame call to the crowd, "I can't hear you," Minaj had a good time with it. She said, "I need all my bad bitches to make some noise!" And then Trina came out for about 30 seconds. We wanted more Trina!
"Save Me" included a little jungle beat in there, but the oddest musical moments were when her dancers got down to Enya. No lie. "Anywhere Is" was playing for a long, long time while they walked around dressed in robes, hands in prayer. And later, there was even more playing of ethereal Enya when Minaj defeats her Nemesis with flashlights. It was surreal to say the least.
Femme Fatale proved to be quite an extravaganza. Spears wasn't the main attraction. But who cares? Everyone and everything else on stage made up for her lack of enthusiasm. The show was as cool as Spears is going to get. And none of her fans went home unhappy.
Personal bias: "Toxic" is such a rad dance song.
The crowd: Gays and girls.
Nicki Minaj's Setlist:
-"Did It on 'Em"
-"Up All Night"
-"My Chick Bad" (with Trina)
-"Your Love" (Interlude)
-"Check It Out"
-"Letting Go (Dutty Love)" (with Sean Kingston)
-"Where Them Girls At"
-"Book of Days" (Enya Interlude)
-"Moment For Life"
Britney Spears's Setlist:
-"Hold It Against Me"
-"Up N' Down"
-"Piece of Me"
-"Big Fat Bass"
-"How I Roll"
"If U Seek Amy"
-"(Drop Dead) Beautiful"
-"Don't Let Me Be the Last to Know"
-"Baby One More Time"
-"Trouble For Me"
-"I'm a Slave for U"
-"I Wanna Go"
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-"Till the World Ends"