Britney Spears' Hits-Filled 'Piece of Me' Show Opens In Las Vegas: Live Review
It was a non-stop hits bonanza at the opening night of Britney Spears' "Britney: Piece of Me" show in Las Vegas on Friday night (Dec. 27).
Spears' 24-song concert was the first of a planned 100 shows over the course of the next two years at the recently revamped AXIS theater at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino. The 90-minute show boasts a "flying" Spears, a massive rotating tree, pyrotechnics, rain, fire and an army of limber dancers.
The all-hits revue stands in contrast to Spears' previous stage spectacles, which featured more album cuts and lesser-known new songs.
Her last tour, 2011's "Femme Fatale" trek, featured a heavy number of tunes (including non-singles) from her then-new album "Femme Fatale." However, the "Britney: Piece of Me" show was designed as a hits retrospective, and it only includes two new songs which are featured on her new album, "Britney Jean": "Work Bitch" and "Perfume."
Spears opened the show with "Work Bitch," descending from the sky in a globe-like cage. Dressed in a skin-tight, sequined bodysuit -- reminiscent of the barely-there outfit she wore in the "Toxic" music video -- she strutted around on stage, and also did some of the choreography from the "Work" video. (Yes, including that one part where she's down on the ground and doing a bicycle-pedal thing with her legs.) Spears was particularly energetic in the number, which seemed to delight the crowd. Among the celebrities in the audience: Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, Adam Lambert and Sia.
"Womanizer" was up next -- and its bass was so loud, the sound was distorted at points. Spears was joined by her dancers again -- who were clad in head-to-toe spandex and odd masks. Think: modified SWAT team. A highlight of the performance was Spears walking on her dancers backs, a sight that drew big cheers from the audience. Clearly, they like a diva in charge.
A short "What's up Vegas!" greeting from Spears followed, along with her saying how it was "wonderful" to be here. It was only a quick hello, though, as the show then shot into her No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hit single "3."
Spears then jumped into a triangular cage and was wheeled around by her dancers across the stage. (It immediately brought to mind how she was carted to-and-fro in cages during her 2009 "Circus" tour.) "3" was heavy on choreography borrowed from the sexy music video, thanks to a parallel bar that dropped out of the sky. It then served as the sexiest jungle gym in Vegas, as Spears and her dancers undulated their way across and around the bar.
There was an odd sound stuttery glitch in the audio at the end of the song, but it was difficult to tell if it was part of the show, or, if it was an actual malfunction.
An interlude followed, and soon, Spears was back, descending from the heavens as a giant, white-winged angel, for the ballad "Everytime." After a snow shower of confetti, perhaps the "snow" that she's been mentioning to press, the song transitioned into "Baby One More Time."
Spears segued from light to dark, making a concealed costume change behind her dancers, transforming from a blond angel into a brunette vixen for "Baby." Her army of dancers kicked their way through the number with her, clad in ninja-like ensembles. After a shower of pyrotechnics, the track morphed into "Oops!…I Did It Again." The latter song got a longer treatment from Spears, compared to the shortened "Baby."
A tepid video-driven interlude was up next, where a series of TV monitors were projected on the walls of the theater, taking us through Spears' many hit music videos. Meanwhile, the stage itself was completely dark and static.
Next was "Me Against the Music," which had notably new live instrumentation from Spears' four-piece band. Spears, in a studded bustier and black leggings, recreated the "Me Against the Music" video, complete with the rickety wooden-slat walls. Madonna, who was originally featured on this song, had her vocals cut out of the tune, and her verse was replaced in favor of a dance break.
Notably, "Me Against the Music" was one of the few songs during the show where hints of Spears' live vocals were audible. (Though, she was still singing over the original studio vocals of "Me Against the Music.") The vast majority of the show was lip-synced, and only occasionally were any seemingly live vocals heard. There was a certain thrill in actually hearing Spears breathing into the microphone -- however infrequent.
Spears had a moment of Vegas redemption in her next number: "Gimme More." Years after she infamously first performed the song at the Vegas-based 2007 MTV Video Music Awards, she was back for... "More." While the VMA performance was generally considered a disaster -- with Spears' sleepwalker-like dance moves and deer-caught-in-headlights reactions -- her 2013 rendition was comparably a big win. It was a short revisit to the "Gimme More" past, as the song shuffled into a brief bit of "Break the Ice," followed by "Piece of Me." For the latter cut, Spears' dancers boot-scooted around on stage in cowboy-and-cowgirl inspired plaid and denim outfits.