Britney's back, and she's fine. Not fantastic, but fine.
- March 17, 2009 1:26 PM |
- By Arts Online
Illustration by Jillian Tamaki
This week, the Circus comes to Canada, led by wobbly pop star Britney Spears and propped up by the Pussycat Dolls and an army of trained monkey dancers. On Wednesday (March 18) and Friday (March 20), Spears brings her latest big-budget concert tour to Toronto and Montreal, respectively.
It's hard to know what to expect of the fallen pop idol. Certainly, her more self-destructive tendencies are currently kept in check -- likely thanks to the iron fist of her father, who's acted as a stern warden throughout the 27-year-old's recovery process -- and recent televised performances at the MTV Video Awards and on Good Morning America were solid, if not remarkable (still a step up from the trainwreck that was Spears circa winter 2007-8). And yet one wonders whether that tenuous composure will crack under the strain of a massive international tour.
New Yorker writer Sasha Frere-Jones -- one of our favourite contemporary music journos -- was at one of the first shows on this Circus excursion. He gives a vivid account of his experience at Long Island, NY's Nassau Coliseum in a blog post on the New Yorker site. For anyone planning to check out Spears's upcoming Canadian dates, it's worth reading as a palate-cleansing hors d'oeuvre; those not attending will still be interested in SF/J's evocative descriptions and keen critical insights.
Some choice snippets:
On the messages (both implicit and explicit) communicated throughout Spears's hour-and-a-half long set:
"[L]ife is like a circus; this tour is sort of like a circus crossed with 'Eyes Wide Shut'; Britney is back; Britney’s songs are all now modern, electro new wave and teen pop is over; Britney is back; and also, Britney is back. Underneath all the noise: Britney is O.K. She’s not dropping babies or shaving her head and she’s in shape. She’s fine. Not fantastic, but fine."
On Perez Hilton, the gossip blog maven, who appeared (via video) to introduce the show:
"[D]ressed as an English queen (the royal kind)... [Hilton] admitted to writing unflattering things about Spears in the past. He then informed us we were going to witness a 'freak show' ... one of many obvious attempts to brand this show for tweens as somehow more 'adult.' ... Why have the highly unappetizing and not funny Hilton open the show? Spears needs him now. Why? Possibly because, at some level, she is admitting that she went off the rails and wants to admit this to us, with us, and move on."
On the overall vibe of the Circus:
"Sometimes, it felt like being at a theme restaurant: videos playing constantly, employees all in colorful costume, everyone hewing to a single concept. And that is what Britney is at her own show—the theme. Her stage presence is fluttery; it is very easy to take your eyes off of her. "
Here's some footage shot by a fan during that Nassau Coliseum stop:
What do you think, gentle readers? If you could score tickets to Britney's Circus tour, would you show up?
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