Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Concert Review: Britney Spears in Exciting, Redemptive Form at Hard Rock

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas…unless you’re Britney Spears, and you bring your “Piece of Me” Vegas residency nationwide.

While created for the debaucherous Nevada city, this sexy, glitter-filled spectacular transferred surprisingly well to The Hard Rock Event Center this past weekend. But with fans who will do anything for their pop princess, Britney doesn’t need to do much to make the crowd go wild. That’s the beauty in this concert: it was made for the most hardcore Britney fan, the devotee who dresses in a “…Baby One More Time”-inspired school girl outfit or who wears a shirt emblazoned with her face.

Even the average Britney listener could attend this wild show and have fun, yet he or she might question why the crowd is so enthusiastic for a 36-year-old blonde woman who is mostly lip syncing. The answer is that Britney’s appeal is not her stellar voice, it’s her immense choreography, talented backup dancers and endless hits. No matter what she does, Britney is iconic, and I loved every minute of watching this pop-culture icon bang out hit after hit after hit.

I suspected Britney might exclude some of her classics from her set list, focusing on songs from her most recent album, Glory, instead. To my surprise, the performance was almost completely Britney’s old-school hits from …Oops I Did It Again to Circus. Every song was a crowd pleaser; Britney gave the fans exactly what they wanted: classic dance-pop jams. While the crowd was less familiar with her more recent hits, the performances were still as animated as ever. “Do You Wanna Come Over?” from Glory was one of the most memorable numbers of the night. The stage turned into a neon nightclub as dancers emerged in hot pink and glowing green outfits that were luminous in the dark stage light. In a glittery one-piece, Britney, being her typical flirtatious self, danced around her buff male dancers under the glow of colorful strobe lights. 

As Britney walked onstage to perform “Gimme More”, a woman in front of it shouted “Who is it?” before getting her response: “It’s Britney, b****.”  This iconic catchphrase caused the crowd to go wild. “Gimme More” was a highlight of the night, and certainly a redemption from her widely panned 2007 MTV Video Music Awards appearance. Unlike that apathetic performance that inspired the viral “Leave Britney Alone” video, the song was performed with vitality. It was just as racy and scandalous as it was so many years ago, yet this time the audience could see Britney having fun and feeling the music rather than cringe at her missing her marks onstage. 

“Circus” was an energetic high of the night as the stage was set up to resemble an actual big-top show. With her dancers dressed like circus puppets, Britney led thim as the ringmaster, dressed in a sparkling trenchcoat. But the stage turned into an actual freak show when Britney asked for a “hot guy” from the audience to come onstage. “Come play with us,” she exclaimed as she found her victim and walked him around stage on a leash while singing “Freakshow.”

Classic hits like “Stronger” and “(You Drive Me) Crazy” reigned supreme. It was clear that the crowd has been waiting to here these iconic songs, and Britney fed off the energy of the crowd. She was surrounded by a huge crew of dancers as they performed a high-energy group dance. Even amongst the high jumps and flips of professional dancers and flashing lights, Britney was still the center of attention.

“Let me hear you sing,” Britney shouted as the crowd serenaded her so loudly, it could be heard from miles away.

“You want one more?” Britney asked before belting the encore, “Till the World Ends,” while dancing underneath a sky of confetti.

It’s been almost 20 years since the release of … Baby One More Time, and the 36-year-old still banks on her sex appeal. Every outfit was a sparkling piece of lingerie, and while the provocative dancing and costuming could have seemed immature for someone of her age, it actually made perfect sense. Yes, Britney is a mother of two, but she still has the same moves she had when she was dancing with a snake to “Slave 4 U.” Age hasn’t taken a toll on her quite yet, and it hasn’t taken a toll on her music either.

I walked into Britney’s concert expecting to be entertained—and my expectations were exceeded. What the audience and I wanted was that classic Britney charm. The “Piece of Me” tour proved that Britney is timeless. Her fans have been by her side from the top of her career to the meltdowns that almost ended it. “Piece of Me” is a thank-you to the pop princess’s loyal subjects. Her reign is far from over.

Set list:

“Work Bitch”


“Break the Ice” / “Piece of Me”

“…Baby One More Time”

“Oops!… I Did It Again”

“If I’m Dancing”

“Me Against the Music”

“Gimme More”


“Change Your Mind (No Seas Cortés)”

“Scream & Shout”


“Do You Wanna Come Over?”

“Work It” / “Get Ur Freak On” / “WTF (Where They From)”

“Get Naked (I Got a Plan)”

“I’m a Slave 4 U”

“Make Me…”


“Do Somethin'”


“If U Seek Amy”

“Breathe on Me”

“Slumber Party”

“Touch of My Hand”



“(You Drive Me) Crazy”

“Till the World Ends”

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