Yass! Britney kicked off Abu Dhabi on 11/11/11 at Femme Fatale Tour as Formula 1 opening. The gym-toned Princess of Pop, who turns 30 next month, entered the stage perched on a throne to perform Hold it Against Me, the lead single from her new album, also called Femme Fatale.
Dressed in a body-hugging sequinned costume, Spears grinned as she enjoyed a rapturous welcome to the UAE capital – while a cornucopia of male and female dancers gyrated around the Louisiana girl in various states of undress.
After greeting her audience, Spears swapped the initial cops and cages theme for more simplistic visuals as she transitioned into her US number one single 3. Wearing a white coat, trilby hat and sunglasses, her vocals began melding into more digitalised territory – making it hard to distinguish the singing from the lip-syncing from the effects unit trickery.
Elsewhere in the fast and colourful show, Britney took a pop at the paparazzi with Piece of Me, as her dancers circled the performer to imitate her real-life army of snap-happy followers.
Big Fat Bass, from her new album, saw a video collaboration with the Black Eyed Peas’ will.i.am. The song lived up to its promise as well, sending sonic pulses into the audience which could be physically felt.
(Drop Dead) Beautiful saw Britney stepping through picture frames provided by her dance crew in a well-rehearsed piece of choreography, before she called a star-struck young audience member onto the stage for a saucy routine of Lace and Leather.
The singer ended up wrapping her legs around the man’s shoulders, as he sat handcuffed and spellbound with a pink feather boa wrapped around his neck, before the unit retracted behind the stage and the video screens lit up once more to fill time between costume changes.
OUT WITH THE OLD
As the show wore on, Britney busted out the gargantuan …Baby One More Time, with an electro makeover and a motorbike theme, before transitioning into a cover of Rihanna’s controversial single S&M.
Elsewhere, a large swing lifted the starlet up to the rafters as she caught her breath to sing the 2001 ballad Don’t Let Me Be the Last to Know – one of only four songs on the setlist taken from her first three albums (along with …Baby, Slave 4 U and Boys).
I Wanna Go saw a loose-limbed dance-off, with several audience members coming onstage to shake a leg (“Great job guys,” shouted Britney in encouragement), before closing number Womanizer and the Japanese-inspired encore of Toxic.
While a sizeable portion of people left the Yas Island venue before the show finished, reactions were mixed as to Britney’s overall contribution to an otherwise bright and tightly run stage show.
Holidaymaker Erin Grace from Austin, Texas, was unimpressed as she headed out during the encore.
“Britney’s concert was lacklustre compared to when I saw her Stateside,” she said. “The energy and passion seemed to be missing. That, paired with a setlist of songs mainly off her current album, didn’t pump any extra enthusiasm into the crowd.
“The few songs that everyone knew finally got the crowd riled up when she did play them.”
However Dubai tutor May Sebastian, 27, said, “I really enjoyed the show. There was a great atmosphere and the stage dancers were really impressive,” though adding that at times Britney appeared tired.