Britney in Concert: A Night Out With the Girls

Because I've heard teen sensation Britney Spears' two albums, I figured I'd be less than enthralled by her concert Saturday at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine, so I took along my favorite 8-year-old, Lindsey, to see how the whole thing looked through her eyes.

For most of Spears' 75-minute performance, those eyes were filled with awe, as Lindsey was so eager to see Spears that she sometimes climbed onto her amphitheater chair for a better view of the stage or video screens.

She simply l-o-v-e-d the show.

It's a good thing I brought her along.

Trust me, this show isn't designed for anyone who is old enough to ever have stepped into a DMV office.It is put together as an entry-level concert experience for little girls, most of whom were dressed Saturday in Britney-inspired halter tops and jeans or shorts--and those girls spent most of the evening waving little green glow sticks in salute to their pop heroine.

On that level, Spears and her team have put together a bull's-eye of a show.Spears, 18, won't convince you that she is anything special as a musical artist, but she is a trouper who works hard at making this a memorable spectacle.

"Are you all having fun, yet?," Spears asked at one point, and all those young voices screamed "Yes" with such enthusiasm that it was disarming.

Built around such runaway hits as ". . . Baby One More Time" and "Oops! . . . I Did It Again," the show, which continues its Southern California run tonight at the Great Western Forum, moved along with the efficiency of a theatrical revue, one that has lots of the razzle-dazzle of Ricky Martin's recent concerts.

There were costume changes, fireworks, a live band, dancers, prerecorded video interludes and even a device that lowered Spears from the ceiling.

There were also lots of concert extras, including a milk industry booth (the "Got Milk?" campaign is one of the tour sponsors) that offers free photos of fans standing next to one of those life-size Britney cardboard posters.

Spears, too, was supported by three warm-up acts Saturday, including the A*Teens, the Swedish group that devotes itself to covers of ABBA tunes, and Mikaila, a 13-year-old from Texas with a remarkably full voice, one blessed with the kind of raspy character associated with Toni Braxton.

But the only thing young Lindsey asked after each set (a male quintet, Stryke 5, also performed) was "When does Britney come on?"

Spears' individual talents aren't commanding. Even if she is using tapes to supplement her live vocals (something that is not uncommon among artists who dance as energetically as Spears), her singing isn't memorable.Her dancing seems to hit all the marks, but the moves are relatively standard. The most appealing moments, physically, were her good-natured Jagger-esque gestures during a rendition of the Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction."

Still, Spears is ideally cast for the role of teen pop star. As with Ricky Martin, she conveys a genuine passion for performing. She wore a smile most of the evening, and there wasn't one moment when it seemed forced.

That demeanor gave Spears a warm, engaging presence--far more so than, say, Mariah Carey, whose recent tour aimed for the same sense of spectacle--even though it was aimed at a substantially older crowd.

Some parents may have felt a bit uneasy when Spears did some modified bumps and grinds in a couple of places, but Spears is, after all, 18--and her fan base extends into the mid-teens, so the movements didn't seem excessive in the context of her videos.

The question, of course, is where Spears, the artist, goes from here. She is part of a long list of teen pop idols, most of whom weren't able to maintain their career momentum as adults.

For now, though, everything seems in place in Spears' world.

On the way home, little Lindsey, drained by the excitement of the evening, fell asleep in the car, clutching her souvenir poster, her "Got Milk?" photo and that still flickering green glow stick.

Bull's-eye, indeed.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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