Concert review: Britney Spears brings more than a touch of Vegas to Singapore

American singer Britney Spears performs her first full-length concert in Singapore at the Indoor Stadium on June 30, 2017. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
American singer Britney Spears performs her first full-length concert in Singapore at the Indoor Stadium on June 30, 2017. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
American singer Britney Spears performs her first full-length concert in Singapore at the Indoor Stadium on June 30, 2017. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
American singer Britney Spears performs her first full-length concert in Singapore at the Indoor Stadium on June 30, 2017. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
Britney Spears performing during her first full length concert in Singapore on June 30, 2017.
Britney Spears performing during her first full length concert in Singapore on June 30, 2017. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

American singer Britney Spears brought a bit of Las Vegas to her first full-length concert in Singapore on Friday night (June 30) - what with razzle-dazzle costumes, spectacular sets, lasers and a troupe of dancers to flank the one-time princess of pop.

Kicking off the Singapore Indoor Stadium concert at 8.10pm, she opened with Work Bitch in a sparkly green leotard that left little to the imagination. Many in the crowd were millennials, who grew up during the singer's peak when No. 1 albums, award show performances and being paparazzi fodder were the norm.

She is recognised by Billboard as the top-selling female artist in the 2000s. Six of her albums, including her first four, have topped the American charts.

As if to acknowledge Friday night's performance as her first full-length concert in Singapore, she segued from the opening numbers into Break The Ice, which opens with "It's been a while, I know I shouldn't have kept you waiting..but I'm here now".

She did a showcase performance for music industry executives here in 1998, a year before her debut album ...Baby One More Time became a worldwide hit.

But even now the 35-year-old star's energy has clearly not waned.

 

The 90-minute show was so breathlessly exciting that she could be excused for the little singing that she did - she appeared to lip-sync her way through the set, breaking only to speak to the crowd in her lilting Louisiana accent.

But at one point during the concert, she belted out Happy Birthday to a member of her team, almost as if to prove she could still hold a tune.

Not that it mattered to the 7,800-strong crowd.

In fact, her fans - such as air stewardesses Lana Jai, 29, Jamie Jidsuda, 33, Patty Sathansuk, 29, and Bim Buddhavana, 31 - said they did not care about the lip-syncing. They were dressed as their idol as she was seen in the music videos for Me Against The Music, Toxic, and Hit Me Baby One More Time.

Ms Jai says it was important for them to be at this concert because they "grew up with Britney".

"The price wasn't important because if you compare it to paying for flight tickets to see her play in Las Vegas, it's okay. Just to see her sing is good enough."

Spears, who has held residency in Las Vegas for the past four years with Britney: Piece Of Me, seemed to closely replicate much of that show's major themes at the Indoor Stadium.

With clever projections and lighting, she took the audience from the club (Boys, Scream & Shout) to the boudoir (sensuous numbers such as Slave 4 U, during which she even brought out a stripper pole).

Outfit changes were also aplenty as she went from one tiny leotard paired with thigh-high boots, to another, showing of her fantastic body in the process.

The raunchiness of Vegas also took centre stage. Spears brought on a lucky male fan from Singapore for the S&M-themed track Freakshow, with her dancers strapping him into a harness as she proceeded to make him crawl on all fours - never mind that her current boyfriend, model Sam Asghari, appeared to be standing at the side of the stage, dutifully watching her perform.

According to Spears' Instagram, he has been tagging along on the Asian leg of her tour, which has also taken her to places such as Thailand, Hong Kong and the Philippines.

Surprisingly, she never had to milk the nostalgia of early hits such as (You Drive Me) Crazy and Stronger. She managed to keep it fresh, by changing the arrangements for almost all her songs, which ran the gamut from ...Baby One More Time (1999) to last year's Glory.

But she always retained familiar elements. For instance, on tracks like Me Against The Music, her dancers wheeled wall set pieces around her, reminiscent of the exact walls from the music video. Eventually all the songs also segued into the original, recognisable, radio versions, keeping fans happy.

As Spears closed the show with an encore of Till The World Ends and a triumphant confetti shower over the standing pen, one thing was clear: After all these years, the spotlight still loves her.