Britney Spears Concert Reviews Dream Within A Dream Tour 2001-2002


Columbus OH Nationwide Arena. November 1, 2001


Friday, November 2, 2001

By Aaron Beck
Dispatch Pop Music Critic

Illustration: Photo

And on the first day of November, Britney Spears rose from the stage in Nationwide Arena. The clothes on her back tacked to a steel table that rose horizontally and then vertically, she greeted us with a snap of her neck to the rafters, before dancers in shredded cowboy gear unhitched the pop-singing lass.

Oops! . . . I Did it Again filled the air, which was mixed with the screams of those in a nearly sold-out arena. The heat from columns of fire shot 15 feet high from the grated steel stage.

During the first performance of her new tour, Spears would go on to rise from a jack-in-the-box and be helped to the runway by tuxedoed suitors. She would go on to bungee jump from a steel platform suspended by cables.

She smiled at us. She giggled. She told us, "I'm so happy to be here tonight.'' She asked us to "give the heroes around the world a round of applause for all of their hard work.''

She spent as much time off the stage as she did on. Costume changes, don't you know?

The band -- a guitarist, a bassist, two backup singers, a drummer and three synthesizer/keyboard players -- able players all, laid down bombastic dance music laced with the occasional metal riff or deep- grooved R&B (mostly on the new tunes) and contributed more keyboard and synthesizer sounds than two or three Yes concerts combined.

From white material made to resemble a cocoon, a cadre of dancers emerged and moved like beings sucking their first air, loping all around.

The kids went nuts. The fathers holding kids held their babes with one arm and peered through binoculars to appreciate, of course, the thought and time that went into what little clothes covered the gyrating, thrusting and strutting bodies moving all over the elaborate, nearly football-field-length stage.

With the exception of Janet Jackson's stolen goods, Boys, most everyone in the audience stood still when Spears and company sang the new tunes. Pounding the message into the kids' heads takes time and research.

The image of Spears is in flux. Her marketers began promoting the former Mouseketeer as a pouty- faced, midriff-baring teen in 1998. In 2001, with the release of her third album, Britney, coming on Tuesday, the people behind the curtains -- choreographers, the folk who coach her before interviews, stylists, dieticians, et al. -- the puppet masters, are hoping the kids will "grow'' with Spears.

Many of the songs on the new disc deal with the evolution of Spears from innocent young thing to naughty seductress. (Jive Records recently sent advance copies to reviewers.) She yearns to be her own woman. Throughout the disc she asks us in so many words why we won't let her be her.

From the sights last night, most everyone was all ears. Children in mothers' arms, bopping along to lyrics such as "I just want you to touch me'' and "I was born to make you happy'' said, if anything, "Britney, honey, we all are open-eared and open-armed. We shall follow you down your Pepsi-sponsored path to ladyhood.''

James D. DeCamp / Dispatch
Britney Spears kicks off her tour at an almost sold-out Nationwide Arena. She was accompanied by backup singers, a band and dancers.

Pittsburgh PA. November 2, 2001

Concert Review: Britney focuses on sexy this time


Saturday, November 03, 2001

By Ed Masley, Post-Gazette Pop Music Critic

Those who caught her bumping and grinding with a 7-foot albino python at the MTV Video Music Awards were no doubt saddened by the lack of a suitable snake for Britney Spears to charm in her concert last night at the Mellon Arena.

Britney Spears opened her show at Mellon Arena last night strapped into place on a swinging metal platform. More photos.


And she didn't do a pole dance, either.

Not like last year out at the Post-Gazette Pavilion.

She's moving on, refusing to repeat her greatest spectacles of "Not A Girl, Not Yet a Woman" sexuality -- the snake, the pole, the Catholic schoolgirl uniform -- without abandoning the qualities that made her America's sweetheart.

And it's not as though she's turned her back on spectacle.

The show began with Britney hanging face-down from a swinging metal platform, strapped in place and purring -- or seeming to purr -- "I'm not that innocent" while dressed in black but looking nothing like a female Johnny Cash.

It ended with her hanging from the ceiling in a harness, back arched, water dripping from the rhinestone cowgirl clothes she'd worn while strutting through an onstage downpour.

Nearly every song entailed an elaborate stage production with dancing and costumes and fire and flying and video footage. "I Love Rock 'n Roll," a Joan Jett tune that came off sounding like a hip-hop remix of an old Black Sabbath single with a female in for Ozzy, ended in the singer bungee-jumping off a flying platform.

Her costumes included a ballerina in a music box, a low-cut space-girl outfit for "Overprotected," a long fur coat for "Lucky," lime green go-go boots, a flowing scarf and not much else for "I'm A Slave 4 U," her latest hit, which Britney introduced by asking "Have you ever heard a song that kind of took over your body and you just lost control of yourself?"

It was the sexiest performance Britney Spears has ever done.

And that, my friend, is saying something.

If the crowd's reception to the new material was muted, there's a reason. "Britney" hasn't hit the streets yet. When it does, the kids will know to sing along to such obvious highlights as "Anticipating," "Boys" and "Overprotected."

In the meantime, they were right there in her corner for such hits as "Sometimes," "... Baby One More Time," "Don't Let Me Be The Last To Know," "Stronger" and "Oops! I Did it Again."

When I walked in to write about the concert, someone asked if she was really singing. If you have to ask, you wouldn't like it. Britney rules a universe where art and artifice are flip sides of the same hit single.

Air Canada Centre, Toronto
Monday, November 5, 2001

Britney unveils new image, sound


Air Canada Centre, Toronto
Monday, November 5, 2001

TORONTO -- Britney Spears, reigning queen of the pop acts, didn't fill the Air Canada Centre with her famous bubble-gum presence and pre-teen giggles on Tuesday night.

Instead, she chose to create a dream-like opus complete with nightmare-esque video montages and thumping beats and breezy day-dreamy numbers featuring blue-moon lighting.

The concert kicked off after a seizure-inducing video montage of the pop diva and random film clips.

"It's a dream come true," whispered video Spears as the atmosphere morphed into a bad dream featuring startling pyrotechnics. Her back-up band emerged vampire-like from beneath the stage in what appeared to be coffins and clad in billowing capes.

Spears herself made a melodramatic entrance - suspended high above the T-shaped stage on a spinning wheel - warming up the audience with an old favourite instead of kicking off with brand new material from "Britney", her new album.

The nightmare setting lasted for three up-tempo numbers; "Oops I Did It Again," "Crazy" and then the new track "Overprotected".

Ever the glamorous popstar, Spears managed to make the first of many costume changes during the first three songs.

The lengthy changes slowed the pace of the show, allowing the audience to fall out of Spears' dreamy-trance for minutes at a time. "Comedic" video montages featuring Spears playing the role of a rock-star wannabe clocked in well beyond the funny mark and left the room restless and wanting more of the star herself in person.

But, when Spears did reappear (dressed in belly-revealing outfits), she did her best to fill the stadium with precise dance movements and elaborate sets.

Although the audience responded to her energetic numbers - a cover of "I Love Rock And Roll", "Stronger" and "What It's Like To Be Me" to name a few -- it was a heartfelt ballad that gave a glimpse into Spears' true potential and star power.

Sitting on the edge of a piano bench, the stage absent of dancers and bathed in a twilight lighting effect, Spears' photogenic face was beamed throughout the stadium. Looking sweet, sincere and genuinely happy to be there, Spears took a moment to thank the firefighters and rescue personal who helped with the September 11 tragedy before launching into her new ballad, "I'm Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman".

Unlike the music and attitude that has categorized her in the past, the performance gave Spears a depth she's previously lacked.

On the other side of the spectrum, the new track "Anticipating" was quintessential Spears and seemed to suit the star just as well as "Girl" did. Decked out in a neon cap, top, boots and a denim skirt, she and her dancers pranced around the stage in a bright-pink faux-car and skipped around neon and pastel cardboard houses.

The song was peppy and fun and aimed straight at the under thirteen crowd that may have been overwhelmed by the pyrotechnics and dark beats that peppered the performances of her new up-tempo tracks.

The sweet, bubble-gum pop was swiftly replaced by Spears' grown-up alter ego. The neon top and cap were thrown away and the denim skirt peeled off to reveal a barely there skirt, knee-high neon green boots and a tiny green bra-top.

"Anticipating" faded into her latest single - "I'm A Slave 4 U". The song, her outfit and the performance landed on the bad side of sleazy and Spears disappointingly abandoned the sheer likeability she revealed through "Girl" and "Anticipating" in favour of breathy moans and cleavage-revealing dance moves.

After climbing a pole above the stage and bending over to give the audience a shot of her (are they real or aren't they?) breasts while finishing up the last verse of "Slave", the show was over.

But it just wouldn't be a Britney Spears show without the song that made her the mega-star she is today.

In perhaps the most impressive stage-effect used by popstars (so far), the centre of the stage was transformed into a tornado/space-ship landing through lighting, lasers and noise. Then the atmosphere softened, and Spears emerged from underneath the stage for her encore.

As her platform rose, the tornado transformed into a rainstorm and Spears, writhing around in the water, serenaded the crowd with a remixed version of "Baby One More Time".

One-part Celine Dion power-ballad, two parts dance mix, the new version of "Baby One More Time" was fun and original. Coupled with elaborate choreography and sets, which included a suspended platform carrying Spears and her dancers, the finale was a fitting end to her dreamy, melodramatic show.

"It was just a dream. A dream within a dream," whispered video Spears from the large monitors.

Although flawed and overdone in places (the "dreamy" atmosphere could have been achieved without the lengthy video montages and the entire show could have done with a bit less cleavage), Spears gave the audience what they wanted.

The show was the visual spectacle pop fans have come to expect in the wake of *Nsync and the Backstreet Boys and Spears catered to her fans' expectations of elaborate dances and, of course, a rendition of "Baby One More Time". It also gave a glimmer of hope to those who want the pop diva to become the next Madonna. For a few minutes here and there, Spears showed actual talent and the potential to be able to truly perform and connect with her audience on an intimate level instead of acting as the pop-puppet and marketing tool for tweens that she's often accused of being.

NOTE: It appears as though "Party Of Five" star Jennifer Love Hewitt is a Britney Spears fan too. The actress was spotted in the audience before the show being mobbed by fans. It looked like she was being escorted to a more private seat just before the concert kicked off.

  • Ooops! ... I Did It Again
  • (You Drive Me) Crazy
  • Overprotected
  • Born To Make You Happy/Lucky/Sometimes
  • Boys
  • Stronger
  • I'm Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman
  • I Love Rock 'N' Roll
  • What It's Like To Be Me
  • Lonely
  • Don't Let Me Be The Last To Know
  • Anticipating
  • I'm A Slave 4 U

  • ... Baby One More Time

  • Nov. 09

    Gund Arena Cleveland, OH

    Risque is OK, Britney fans say


    John Soeder
    Plain Dealer Pop Music Critic

    Britney Spears is a teen idol in transition.

    The singer performed before a near-capacity crowd last night at Gund Arena, three days after the release of her career-overhauling third album, "Britney," and less than four weeks shy of her 20th birthday.

    For Spears, the bubblegum-pop bubble has burst. In her new incarnation, she favors down-and-dirty R&B and hip-hop grooves, suggestive lyrics and a wardrobe that leaves less and less to the imagination.

    Some wonder if the risque business will turn off her young fans - or their parents. But it didn't stop Sara Filzer, 5, of South Euclid, from attending the concert - with her Raggedy Ann doll in tow, no less. She dragged along her 17-year-old stepsister, Angel Chambers, too.

    Chambers didn't see any serious harm in Spears' vampish revamp. "Some parents might say she's too sexy, blah, blah, blah," Chambers said. "But she'll definitely get more guy fans."

    Beachwood residents Adam Weiss, 15, and Jason Ross, 16, weren't there to see Spears. They were hoping to meet members of the opposite sex.

    "We haven't had any luck yet," Ross said.

    "But the night is young," Weiss added optimistically.

    After opening act O-Town, yet another five-headed boy band, got the audience's hormones flowing, Spears made a dramatic entrance.

    The opening number, "Oops! . . . I Did It Again," found her decked out in a navel-baring outfit and strapped to a large spinning wheel.

    She was accompanied by a five-piece band, two backing singers and a coed troupe of eight dancers.

    They did some heavy-duty bumping and grinding during a funky new tune titled "Boys."

    Susie Toncar of Akron took her niece Casi Branthoover, 15, to the show.

    "I like Britney's sound," Toncar said. "The only thing I don't like is how a lot of really young kids look up to her."

    Spears slipped into a tight jumpsuit (shades of Jane Fonda's "Barbarella" costume) to belt out "Overprotected," one of eight selections from her latest album. "I don't wanna be so damn protected," she sang.

    "She doesn't want to be Little Miss Innocent anymore," said Nikki Zaghet, 15, of Brook Park. "She's trying to be more mature - and she swears."

    "I know I get a lot of flak for what I wear, for what I say, for what I don't say. . . . But I'm not a little girl anymore," Spears told concert-goers before she sang a new ballad whose title seemed to sum up her situation: "I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman."

    Kandi Lloyd of Barberton didn't disapprove of Spears as a role model. "There are worse things out there," Lloyd said, fresh from a visit to the souvenir stand, where her 8-year-old niece, Kellie Cline, bought two teddy bears sporting miniature Spears T-shirts.

    "We may not approve of how Britney dresses," Lloyd said. "But at least she has done something with her life. She shows kids what you can accomplish if you put your mind to something."

    November 10th Cincinnati OH


    To Britney, singing is a fantasy

    Great show if you don't mind lip synching

    By Larry Nager
    The Cincinnati Enquirer

    Britney Spears performs at Firstar Center Saturday night.
    (Brandi Stafford photos)
    | ZOOM |
            The encore was a rainstorm that soaked the star and her eight dancers. Before that there flashpots, fireworks, lasers, fog, bubbles, airborne platforms and hurricanes of confetti. Saturday night at Firstar Center, Britney Spears' concert packed more technical wizardry than Harry Potter, but almost no actual singing.

            Of course, this wasn't a reality show. The theme of her “Dream Within a Dream” tour is fantasy, so there were elaborate costume and sets for every song. And lots of dancing.

    | ZOOM |
            Madonna and Janet Jackson set the MTV diva rules in the '80s — you can't sing and dance at the same time, so lip synch.

            Britney danced all over — and, several times, suspended by bungee cords, metal cables and a metal gondola, above — her elaborate metal stage. Her voice was consistently strong and clear.

            But when she stopped to address her crowd of mostly young teen-aged girls (dressed seemingly for Lolita open auditions), her voice was suddenly that of a hoarse, breathless, little girl.

            If it wasn't quite a real concert, it was a great show. She opened the night dressed like Stevie Nicks' younger sister, performing “I'm Not That Innocent,” as she spun 360 degrees on a metal grid. Joined by her dancers in the same witchy pirate garb, it looked like Halloween again.

    | ZOOM |
            It was non-stop from there, for the next 85 minutes. There were splashy '70s-style clothes for the disco party of “Anticipating”; an un-funny Behind the Music takeoff for “I Love Rock 'n' Roll”; and cavegirl garb for “Slave 4 U.”

            Even a simple ballad like “Don't Let Me Be The Last To Know” required she ascend on a hydraulic platform over a bed of fog.

            She turned serious, telling the two-thirds full arena how proud she was of the way the country has “come together” as she introduced her new ballad, “I'm Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman.”

            The show is a “live” version of her upcoming HBO special, debuting Nov. 18. Maybe that will get her career back on track. Her lagging ticket sales have been matched by her new Britney CD. It sold 600,000 in its first week; Oops! I Did It Again sold more than 1 million. Broadway, here she comes.

            O-Town opened with an energetic 45 minutes. The boy band, featuring former University of Cincinnati student Dan Miller, got its start as the made-for-TV group on Making the Band. To make up for its synthetic beginning, the quintet has adopted the roughest look of the pack, wearing T-shirts and jeans. But the dancing and hormonal songs (“Every Six Seconds,” “Liquid Dreams,” “Girl”) are boy-band business-as-usual.


    November 12th Pepsi Center Denver, CO

    Vixen Britney still showbiz baby

    Spectacle obscures tarted-up image

     By G. Brown
    Denver Post Popular Music Writer

    Tuesday, November 13, 2001 - One of the most popular and controversial teenage entertainers ever, Britney Spears has rated as a kiddie-pop guilty pleasure - her hits "Oops! I Did It Again" and " Baby One More Time" are terrific pop cheese.


    But after her recent snake-toting performance at the MTV Video Music Awards, a lot of grown-ups finally comprehended the barely-legal brouhaha - Spears (who'll turn 20 next month) came off as a bimbo nymphet who can barely formulate a coherent sentence.

    But she still commands rabid support from legions of midriff-baring fans, and the "Britney World Tour" rolled into Pepsi Center on Monday night. The theatrical, "dream-within-a-dream" show in support of her new album, "Britney," Monday's autobiographical outing charted her journey from bubblegum sweetheart to full-blown vixen.

    Devotees had had six days to digest the songs from the new album - it was in stores last Tuesday - and they applauded "Overprotected" and the attitude and edge of the single "I'm a Slave 4 U." Houses and cars that looked like cut-out crayon drawings heightened the cute factor for "Anticipating."

    And by putting a hip-hop element in Joan Jett and the Blackhearts' 1981 hit "I Love Rock 'N' Roll," the pop princess messed hard with the treasured memories of her fans' parents.

    But it was the ballad "I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman" that summed up her current issues and interests. "I get a lot of flack for what I wear or what I say or what I don't say," Spears told the crowd. "But I'm not a little girl anymore."

    Indeed. Spears is more than button cute - it's that blond mane, those doe eyes! She's such a fabulous dancer - she's been honing her moves since she was a tyke.

    But if she wasn't singing (lots of sass-and-style vocal tics), you might have thought you were witnessing a table dance at Shotgun Willie's. All tarted up, bumping and grinding in teensy tops and short-shorts, she played the vamp. The curvy temptress nearly popped out of her green bra top bucking on the back of one of her male dancers during "I'm a Slave 4 U."

    When all the writhing around was done, Spears hadn't outgrown her audience, not quite. Her showbiz ambitions overwhelmed her bad-girl-acting-good side.

    The stage was half the length of a football field - an oval main stage, a runway and an additional stage in the middle of the floor. Hundreds of lights. Dancers getting their groove on. Inflatable props, buckets of confetti, bungee jumping, even a Hollywood rainstorm for the encore, a techno version of " Baby One More Time."

    Throw in the numerous video clips that framed the show, giving fans a taste of the teen queen's acting talents (she's in the upcoming movie "Crossroads"), and it was impossible to keep up with all the spectacle.

    Next time, though, she should bring a pole to dance around.

    SALT LAKE CITY, UT November 13, 2001

    Britney's Big Show Starts Late, Ends With a Storm

    Wednesday, November 14, 2001
    Britney Spears heats things up Tuesday at the Delta Center. Her "Dream Within a Dream" concert delighted her fans, despite getting a late start. Besides the usual pint-size Britney wannabes, the show also drew a considerable number of young men. (Trent Nelson/The Salt Lake Tribune)
    Click here for photo gallery.

       Britney Spears' really big show in the Delta Center Tuesday night was loud and sexy and tailored to her fans -- except that she didn't go onstage until it was past bedtime for many of them. But the 45-minute break between Britney and well-received opening boy band O-Town may have been planned. After all, her new tour is called "Dream Within a Dream."
        At long last, the wake-up call came. Britney made a fire and smoke-filled entrance, rising from under the stage locked into a steel frame. In skin-tight bodysuit, she hit full arena stride while the strains of "Oops . . . I Did It Again" pounded over the crowd.
        For the younger, glow-stick-waving members of the audience, the show followed a pattern that will be easy for them to tell their friends:
        First, Britney did this, then she did another thing, then she did that. Continuity was sacrificed in favor of spectacle, and it went over pretty well. It was too bad that the pop star had to keep disappearing for costume changes; she rarely had time to enjoy the audience. There were no bows between songs -- applause kept getting lost in the transitions -- and the only conversation was a brief introduction to "I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman." Britney breathlessly said she is living out her dreams and it doesn't matter if people criticize what she does or wears.
        Many in the audience did care what she was wearing -- most of it around her hips -- and appreciated it. Anyone expecting the crowd to be all pint-sized Britney wannabes would have been surprised at the healthy contingent of young men there, including some former high school friends of O-Town's Trevor Penick.
        On the set list were old favorites "Crazy" and "Don't Let me Be the Last to Know," with lots of songs from her new release, "Britney." Her encore was "Baby One More Time," her first song ever released, performed in an indoor thunderstorm.

    Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim

    Britney's New Spin
    * Teen-pop queen Spears targets an older demographic in an extravaganza that displays a healthy amount of sincerity alongside the razzle-dazzle.


    Britney--she's not just for kids anymore.

    The eye- and ear-popping new tour starring "the reigning queen of teen pop," as Spears has been introduced of late, is unequivocally a show that a lot of discriminating pop fans over 20 might latch on to--if they can get past any biases toward someone as unrelentingly perky as this 19-year-old pop phenom and sex kitten.

    The big question is whether, in consciously reaching out to an older demographic, Spears will sacrifice the fans who gave her the keys to the kingdom in the first place? Some parents have been reluctant to take their preteens to see what's been touted as a darker, more mature production, although plenty were still on hand Tuesday when the former Mouseketeer played to a near-capacity house at the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, a night before her tour reached Staples Center in L.A.

    But despite some mildly exotic numbers featuring mysterious characters that might have been plucked from a Cirque du Soleil troupe, it's only sporadically more sexually charged than her previous tours. Think of it as the difference between PG and PG-13.

    It is, however, more thoughtfully conceived in its overarching attempt to explore the process of growing up, through the eyes of one adolescent who has the whole world watching her.

    The 80-minute extravaganza, featuring an all-stops-out set that covered three-quarters of the arena's floor, opened with "Oops! ... I Did It Again." It wasn't simply a way to launch the evening with a hit, but a conscious effort to set the tone via the lyric in which Spears boasts, "I'm not that innocent."

    She fleshed out that theme--literally and figuratively--with many of the songs drawn from her just-released third album, "Britney." The sentiments aren't always artfully expressed or exceptionally deep, but Spears put them across as honest expressions from a young woman going through a transition that's both confusing and liberating.

    The performance is framed as "a dream within a dream." That conceit is a rather slight excuse to help justify the parade of costume and set changes, the constant being the most flattering displays imaginable of the world's most famous navel.

    Most shows by teen-pop performers develop into nothing more than random acts of hyperkinetic choreography, but Spears' work ethic and genuine charisma infuse much of her lightweight material with a sincerity her peers can't touch.

    The only time that sincerity is undermined is when Spears professes not to understand the sexual fantasies exploited in her songs, videos and concert production numbers. If Bob Dole is in on the gag, certainly Spears must know more than she's letting on. Since she's constantly asking not to be treated like a little girl, maybe it's time she stops acting like one.

    Her show is generally more impressive than the new album. The one exception was the loss of some canny album production work on songs such as "I'm a Slave 4 U" amid the decibel-happy, bottom-heavy sound mix.

    In any case, it's a demonstrable step forward for Spears, even if we're not talking Springsteenian integrity or a Peter Gabriel-level rock-as-theater experience. The more fitting yardstick would be a big-bucks Broadway musical built on razzle-dazzle lighting and choreography, hummable pop tunes and a genuinely endearing main character at the center.

    Opening acts such as O-Town, on the other hand, make pop music's original made-for-TV band, the Monkees, look better with every passing year.

    Britney shares fantasy, not music, in lavish spectacle

    of the Journal Sentinel staff
    Last Updated: Nov. 27, 2001
    6703Britney Spears
    Britney Spears performs for a near-sellout crowd Tuesday night at the Bradley Center.
    Photo/Gary Porter
    Britney Spears performs for a near-sellout crowd Tuesday night at the Bradley Center.
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    ...Baby One More Time
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    Just because they call it a concert doesn't mean it's about music.

    The master of ceremonies at Tuesday night's Britney Spears concert at the Bradley Center was a percussionist named Slam. It fell to Slam to introduce the newly hatched boy band that opened for Britney - O-Town. In so doing, Slam didn't bother himself with matters of musicianship, songwriting or vocal talent.

    No, he cut right to the essence.

    "Dan's got a really nice butt," he said.

    Suffice it to say that Britney's tour prides itself on its bootylicious assets and other visual charms. Even more than most teen pop extravaganzas, this one is built around the projection of adolescent fantasy through a non-stop array of high-tech and high-energy spectacles. It is, measured by its own values, an arresting event. But it's not an event where music seems to be the prime objective. This circus is about spectacle.

    Virtually every song was a full-blown production number with dancers and lavish effects. There were fireworks, geysers of flame, rolling clouds of fog, lasers, multiple video screens, at least a half-dozen costume changes, airborne acrobatics, showers of confetti, an enormous stage that ramped to the very middle of the hall and a troupe of eight dancers.

    For "Born to Make You Happy" Britney rose from a giant music box in the costume of a fairy tale princess. For "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" Britney and her girl dancers rode a suspended mini-stage that sailed out over the middle of the hall 20 feet in the air. At the climactic moment, Spears leaped from the platform to cavort in midair with two male dancers suspended on bungee cords. That presumably was the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Diva portion of the evening.

    For her encore of ". . . Baby One More Time," Britney once again went airborne, this time singing in the rain beneath a man-made cloudburst while showers of confetti fluttered down on the fans. All that production made for an entertaining and fast-paced show if you weren't fussy about musical issues. Clearly the tour isn't. It is perhaps significant that they introduced the back-up dancers but not the band.

    With any Britney event, people want to know what she did to vex or placate parents. Britney's most precarious balancing act is not on a bungee cord. Her slacks certainly did a reasonable approximation of spray paint on several occasions, the famous tummy was almost always on display and there was probably more cleavage than we've seen from Britney before. The one time she clearly pushed it to an extreme was during "Slave 4 U" when she essentially stripped down to bra and bikini bottom.

    There's been a lot of talk about the new more adult (read eroticized) Britney. The odd thing about that whole controversy is that judging by Tuesday's near-sellout crowd, her core audience is still very young girls in the middle school and junior high group. In fact, there was a significant showing of 5- and 6-year-old ladies who presumably jilted Barney for Britney. The majority of adults there were obviously escorting fans too young to attend on their own.

    Those very young ladies obviously look up to Britney Spears as a fantasy role model and big sister. Which raises a question: If your audience is made up of very young teen and preteen girls, what pressure is there to project a more sexual, adult persona? You wouldn't think there were many 12-year-old girls leaving the Bradley Center Tuesday complaining, "Gee, I wish Britney had given us more cleavage."

    Nov. 28 Chicago, IL Allstate Arena


    Some dancing, jiggling and a little singing—it's Britney's show

    By Greg Kot

    Britney—is a last name even necessary?—shimmied into the Allstate Arena on Wednesday, a one-woman navel maneuver who displays her assets, conceals her flaws behind a wall of technology and makes her audience scream for more.

    But more of what, exactly?

    She says she's not a role model, but Britney Spears' cultural influence says otherwise. Check out the parade of midriff-baring Britney wannabe's at the nearest shopping mall, count the number of gradeschoolers in teen-queen outfits who went trick or treating at Halloween or rack up those album sales: 31 million for three albums, and rising. That's beyond Elvis, the Beatles, even 'N Sync.

    Most of all, count the empty seats at the Allstate. There weren't any. Many were filled by enthralled girls, average age 12, waving fluorescent batons. Spears advised them to live their dreams, presenting her concert as an elaborate fairy tale with a happy ending. But her dream sounds like it could have been conjured by Hugh Hefner during one of his infamous lost weekends at the mansion.

    The message Spears sends to her young disciples is this: Be a blond, busty babe, and you too can make millions. You don't even have to sing (the sound pouring from the speakers when the star opened her mouth was that of a canned, flawlessly tuned choir, not an out-of-breath performer reaching for a high note).

    No, what really counts is having a good choreographer, a better producer and a body with enough curves to strike out Barry Bonds with the bases loaded.

    Give Spears this: This soon-to-be-20-year-old show-biz lifer knows how to work it, to put on a precision show of dancing, jiggling and even occasional singing on a 153-foot-long three-tiered stage and runway.

    She floated on a platform and bungee-jumped over the audience while a five piece band, a small company of dancers, sparklers, explosions and videos distracted the audience from noticing Spears' musical limitations. After all, this wasn't about the music at all, but a fabulously appointed video shoot, with the audience as voyeurs and spontaneity as an apparently unmourned casualty.

    The last few years have seen the emergence of many strong, complex female pop personalities who are of Spears' generation, from Lauryn Hill to Nelly Furtado, and perhaps Spears will one day be among them. But as of now, she is a PG-13 cartoon stereotype flirting with an R rating: the lip-synching equivalent of a Maxim magazine cover doing a lap dance in a "Rent"-style Broadway musical.

    She opened the show by declaring "I'm not that innocent." For a piano ballad, "I'm not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman," she measured the distance to adulthood, then said, "I get a lot of flak for what I wear and what I say ... but I'm not a little girl anymore."

    Yet Spears seems to have thought very little about what that means, other than it allows her to flash more cleavage and gyrate for the video cameras like one of Kid Rock's cage dancers.

    Sex has been a marketing tool ever since Frank Sinatra made bobby-soxers weep. But Spears' act is essentially Lolita Grows Up.

    She is a music-box ballerina, but she also grinds with her dancers during "Boys." She is the apple-eyed innocent who greets concertgoers wearing a halo, but she fills "I'm a Slave 4 U" with enough double entendres to make Motley Crue leer.

    The little girl has grown up into quite a little tease of a self-marketer. And then she ends it all by strolling through a fake shower, the cool-down after the come-on.

    november 29th show in Minneapolis Minnesota From the StarTribune

    Review: Britney's dream show full of illusion
    Star Tribune
    Published Nov 30 2001


    Britney Spears is an overexposed, overhyped, overstimulated, oversexed, underdressed tease. Oh people, get over it. It's all about illusion for the queen of teen pop.


    At least that's what her Dream Within a Dream Tour suggested Thursday night at Target Center in Minneapolis. All this dark, sexually suggestive stuff is apparently what she's been dreaming about since she was a little girl in Kentwood, La. Onstage and on giant video screens Thursday, Spears, who turns 20 on Sunday, stated that the performance -- and her life -- was about dreams. But the 85-minute show was really about artifice and illusions.


    Britney Spears opens her show at Target Center.
    Photo: Carlos Gonzalez
    Star Tribune


    In 27 years of reviewing for this newspaper, I cannot remember a pop or rock concert at which the music was more superfluous. This show was all about Wow! She's spinning around on a platform as wild as a State Fair ride in slow motion! Wow! She's bungee jumping from high above the stage on a giant video screen! Wow! She's doing some fancy, athletic choreographed steps with eight hot dancers, just like on one of her videos! Wow! She's bald in a video on the big screen and suddenly big blonde hair morphs on her head! Wow! She's floating on a pontoon through a rainstorm! Wow!


    What was the message? Um, I don't really know. With this kind of whiz-bang spectacle, it was hard to pay attention to the music. And the music wasn't at all compelling. The sound was muddy, and Spears' vocals didn't engage the near-capacity crowd of 15,000, because she was lip-synching. She wasn't pouring emotion into her "vocal" performance; she was concentrating on her choreography and costume changes. (If you'd listened to these same songs on her three best-selling albums, they don't have much substance, but her newest stuff, which comprised half the concert, suggests that she is growing up and trying to find herself -- just like every other tween girl.)


    Spears beat Diana Ross' record -- or was it Cher's? -- for the most costume changes in a less-than-90-minute show. There were 11, not including just removing a coat to alter a look. (And all but two of them allowed her famous midriff to be exposed.)


    The dancing was well-conceived, not overly challenging and highly entertaining, though at times the filmed snippets on the video screens were more arresting than the live performance.


    The crowd of young girls (with parents), teens and 20-something couples seemed as awed by the extravaganza as we've all been by Britney's videos and live TV performances. But somehow it all seemed so innocent, so unformed, so yearning to figure out who she is and where she fits in. Spears, a former member of the Mickey Mouse Club, came across like so many of her predecessors, like an enduring Paula Abdul with fellow Mouseketeer Annette Funicello's figure, like an artificial Madonna without a message, like a small-town, unsweaty Janet Jackson without the family drama. Maybe it's time for Spears to have a dream that is uniquely her own vision

    'Goth' Spears dazzles at arena

    Queen of Teen roars into town with her "Dream Within a Dream'' show

    By GREG HAYMES, Staff writer
    First published: Tuesday, December 4, 2001

    * Music Review
    ALBANY -- Queen of Teen Britney Spears -- who left her teen years behind when she celebrated her 20th birthday on Sunday -- roared into the Pepsi Arena on Monday night with 17 truckloads of her "Dream Within a Dream'' show, and it was clear from the start -- a twisted Goth rendition of "Ooops! I Did It Again'' -- that she'd like nothing more than to shed her teen-pop image.

    Yes, there was some music involved, but, let's face it, Britney's dark, belly-button-baring assault on the Capital Region was all about image and theater -- and it was pretty good theater at that. Well, at least it was good spectacle.

    Spears' show was so high on the wow-meter that I'm tempted to tell arena-rock veteran Ozzy Osbourne to stay home. Could his upcoming Dec. 18 concert at the Pepsi possible pack more sheer spectacle than Spears' extravaganza? Nah, I don't think so.

    Onstage elevators were going up and down -- often at the same time. The air was often filled with confetti, bubbles, green lasers and twirling glow-sticks, often at the same time. Fire towers flamed up from the stage while showers of sparks tumbled down -- often at the same time. She bungee-jumped up and down -- often at -- well, you get the idea -- between two male bungee-dancers during "Boys.''

    And during the hyper-techno encore of " ... Baby One More Time'' (culled from the first of her three albums), the star and her ever-faithful entourage of dancers were drenched in a torrential onstage shower of real, honest-to-goodness water. Neat, huh?

    And, of course, there was a barrage of video clips, most of which served as time-filler while Britney slipped out of one extravagant outfit and into another. If I'm not mistaken, Spears -- with nearly a dozen different fashion statements -- broke Cher's world record for the most costume changes over the course of an 85-minute concert. Oh, I don't know. Maybe it was Diana Ross' record. Or was it Stevie Nicks?

    "Anticipating'' was one big sing-songy karaoke session, while the army of dancers cavorted in a cardboard cartoon stage set. And her version of "I Love Rock 'n' Roll'' certainly had Joan Jett spinning in her grave. Oh, she's not dead? Well, she probably is now.

    Spears' spectacular had a decidedly dark, almost Gothic tinge to it -- decidedly more David Lynch than Walt Disney. But, in truth, the show was actually the concert equivalent of a blockbuster Hollywood action movie -- lots of very expensive special effects, but precious little substance to back it up.

    On the other hand, if you're looking for substance from a teen-pop concert, you've probably got other more deeply rooted problems.

    Opening act O-Town was the made-for-TV band spawned by ABC-TV's "reality'' show, "Making the Band,'' which has network-shifted to MTV for its third season beginning next month. On the concert stage, the pre-fab five romped through their 50-minute set with the perpetual motion of an aerobics class, somehow seemingly delivering pitch-perfect, seamless vocal harmonies while bouncing around stage like dancing pinballs on tilt.

    Once in a while Ashley -- the cute blond one -- would sit at the piano or Dan -- the dreadlocked rebel -- would pick up an acoustic guitar, just to try to establish an iota of musical credibility. Or they would dip into the O'Jays' soul classic "For the Love of Money.''

    But for the most part, they were content to simply cruise through tunes like "Sensitive,'' "Liquid Dreams'' or drippy ballads like "All or Nothing'' and Diane Warren's bombastic "Baby I Would,'' sending their too-young-to-know-better fans into screaming fits of ecstasy. It made 'N Sync and the Backstreet Boys seem like Bob Dylan or Mozart in comparison, but it obviously achieved the same teen-pop magic spell.


    When: 7:30 p.m. Monday

    Where: The Pepsi Arena, South Pearl St., Albany

    Musical highlights: Huh? You mean there was music, too?

    Length: Britney -- 85 minutes; O-Town -- 50 minutes.

    The crowd: Surprisingly enough, there were a number of empty seats in the arena. And despite the fact that it's December, there were more exposed belly-buttons in the crowd than at any summertime concert.

    Upcoming: The Pepsi Arena's holiday season kicks into high gear at 8 p.m. Wednesday with Keith Lockhart conducting the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra. Special guests include the Gloriae Dei Cantores choir and Paul O'Brien


    December 6, 2001 -- EVERY show, from when she was a kid through her recent Las Vegas HBO spectacular, was practice for Britney Spear's headlining concert at Madison Square Garden last night.

    If P.T. Barnum worked in rock 'n' roll, this is the kind of extravaganza the master showman would have designed.

    Laser lights shot across the Garden, fireworks exploded, confetti flew and Britney was on-fire hot. By the third tune, you had to wonder how the just-turned-20 pop princess was going to keep up that level of excitement throughout her 90-minute show.

    She did it with her racy costumes and one of the most elaborately built stages in rock. The concert was built around every young girl's worries and passions and every boy's fantasy.

    Early in the concert, when Britney was introducing her piano ballad, "I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman," she said, "I'm not that innocent. I get a lot of flak for what I wear and what I say, but I'm not a little girl anymore." Throughout the night, she proved that.

    In this song, she was passionate, powerful and believable.

    With all of the elaborate staging, the show took a slightly dangerous turn when Britney and a gaggle of girl dancers performed Joan Jett's "I Love Rock and Roll" from a 10-by-20-foot platform suspended above the Garden's floor.

    As the dancers wiggled, the wires holding that section of stage slipped, sending one end of the platform down three feet lower than the other. The girls grabbed the guy wires and the platform eventually was leveled. Before she could go splat, Britney escaped the platform via bungee cords.

    Even in a show as tightly choreographed as this one, that wasn't part of the script.

    The concert was arranged so that every song was its own pop story, like videos come to life. That worked for most of the tunes, but when Britney battled with her own image on a video screen, it worked only for the part of the audience she faced. The other half saw only the back of the video screen and no Britney.

    For all of the guff that Spears takes for showing off her body in scanty duds, this was one of the more wholesome shows on the arena circuit.

    Little was risqué, and the tunes that were staged with that extra sexual edge, such as "I'm a Slave 4U" and "Oops, I Did It Again," were subtle enough to be acceptable to even the youngest children in the house. In fact, the staging was more theatrical than sexual.

    Almost every trick in the rock-'n'-roll songbook was used in this concert. Britney even added a new one: onstage indoor rain. Britney and her troupe danced through a downpour that showered from rafters to the Garden floor to her debut hit, "Baby One More Time."

    This was a show even Britney's most ardent critics couldn't help but be impressed with. It was high energy, well thought out and designed to thrill.







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