Britney Spears is an icon and a legend, even at her young age. Spears broke sales records with her first album …Baby One More Time in 1999 and it’s follow up 2000’s Oops!… I Did It Again, and continued to be a reliable hitmaker through the last two decades. While her most recent album, 2016’s Glory, didn’t make the biggest commercial splash, it didn’t matter, as Spears was still ruling Las Vegas with her Piece of Me shows at Planet Hollywood.
That four-year run is now complete, and after a well-deserved break, Spears is taking her Piece of Me tour across the county starting with two shows at the MGM National Harbor.
Having seen the Vegas show I knew exactly what I would been in for, and while Spears was fantastic throughout, I felt like it could have been a bigger spectacle, especially for the ticket price. Though let’s be honest, Las Vegas is a shithole, and no one really wants to be there. MGM National Harbor is everything Vegas is not and it’s much better for it.
The tour is meant to move, so the larger more permanent elements of the show are gone (RIP “Toxic” Tree). The backgrounds ran the gamut from cherry blossoms to Will.i.am laser realness to a Window 95 screensaver of Blade Runner 2049. For a pop show it felt a like an afterthought, but it worked.
The near capacity crowd were decked in their best Britney Spears gear. Some wearing outfits inspired by her iconic music videos. Most were wearing this $12.99 Target tee, as opposed to her expensive merchandise which included a $35 “Work Bitch” hat.
Spears started the night on a high with “Work Bitch” energizing the crowd ready to take their queen in. From there she touched on all the periods of her career spending more time with her late aughts albums than her earlier material broken up in seven distinct sections.
Each section included a slight costume change, adding a new top to Spear’s body suit which was a mix of a swim suit and bedazzled lingerie. The costumes were not as impressive as her Vegas run, and there were no full outfit changes, which was a shame. Dancers each got their moment to shine between songs. While Spears can still dance, she is less of a dancer but more of a prop for the dancers to pass around or huddle around while she robotically moves through the basic choreography or needs to turn around and put her hair in a pony. I’ll just say there is no way she would be sent to the Academy on So You Think You Can Dance.
The strangest dance break was after “I’m A Slave 4 U” where there was a quick three song Missy Elliot tribute which was fun for the audience but made no sense in the grand scheme of the show.
All the biggest hits were included. Some like “…Baby One More Time” were placed in the start of the hour and a half set, but it goes to show just how many bangers Spears has. The Glory songs were well executed but the crowd was less enthused, and each provided some bathroom relief. “Make Me” was the most downtempo of the songs played, with none of Spear’s ballads represented. It was sad to see “Everytime” left off the setlist. “Clumsy” a newer track was just that, with Spears miming very basic dance moves and the worst lip-sync of the night.
Unlike most pop artists, Spears is not trying to impress the audience with her voice. This is not a complaint, but merely an observation. While her microphone was on while she addressed the crowd, it most certainly was not on during the songs. Hopefully the crowd was drunk on MGM’s One More Time drinks enough to not notice her multiple lip-sync flubs.
Photos courtesy MGM National Harbor