There was a point in “3” where Britney Spears was walking down a lengthy catwalk alone and looked around for the rest of her dancers.
It looked genuine, but in the Spears show, who knows? Everything here is all about facades and fantasies anyway – including the one where she, you know, sings instead of lip-synchs.
Anyway, the look is one of momentary confusion and it served as a reminder of what the “real” Spears is all about, the “I'm just a single mom, y'all, trying to earn money for my kids” Spears. That's the look that helps make all the adoration more understandable. That's the way she touches all these people who are screaming to be part of the massive dance party that she's leading.
Britney Spears is a survivor and she's doing the best that she can, escaping through her facades and dance-floor fantasies. People relate to that. The whole “Femme Fatale” tour setup – told through filmed pieces where she's locked in a battle with some WWII-era bad guy who wants to bring her down for some reason – is about her survival through music and the joyous “How I Roll” (where she rolls downstage on top of a car) and “Til the World Ends” show why.
However, it's clear that the rest of the world is gaining on Spears. This summer's parade of superstar women – especially Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Katy Perry – trade in the same stock that Spears does and they can sing while doing it.
Spears' opener Nicki Minaj is also hot on her trail, with a 40-minute set that had the same odd spy vs. spy theme and nearly as many outright thrills. When Kanye West showed up to deliver “Monster” with Minaj, it was a sign that the Southside Jamaica, Queens native, even as an opener, has the heat to merit that level of guest. It also raised the question that Spears may not – or at least not for much longer.
SPEARS SETLIST: Hold It Against Me / Up 'n' Down / 3 / Piece of Me /Big Fat Bass / How I Roll / Lace and Leather / If U Seek Amy / Gimme More / (Drop Dead) Beautiful (featuring Sabi) / Don't Let Me Be the Last to Know / Boys / Baby One More Time / S&M / Trouble for Me / I'm a Slave 4 U / I Wanna Go / Womanizer // ENCORE: Toxic / Til the World Ends (featuring Nicki Minaj)
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MINAJ SETLIST: Romans Revenge / Did It On 'Em / Bottoms Up / My Chick Bad / Your Love / Monster (featuring Kanye West) / Save Me / Bedrock / Check It Out / Where Dem Girls At / Wave Ya Hand / Moment 4 Life / Super Bass