Songs Evaluation: ‘Britney: Piece of Me,’ Britney Spears’s Las Vegas Residency

December 30th, 2013

LAS VEGAS — For the last six several years, the point out of Britney Spears has been summed up greatest — and most usually — by the simple phrase she intoned at the top of “Gimme More,” from 2007, that has given that turn out to be a catchphrase: “It’s Britney, bitch.”

Not a tease, nor a boast, nor a taunt, it is virtually apologetic, an apt tagline for a star whose energy is self-apparent, but also blank and tautological. It is what may seem on the organization card of a performer with nothing at all left to insert.

No surprise then that at 32, with far more than two decades of carrying out underneath her belt, Ms. Spears has presently arrived at the laurel-resting part of her career, landing in a greatest-hits generation so profitable that it hardly requirements her at all.

Mostly, she’s a pinball during the 90-moment extravaganza “Britney: Piece of Me,” her new residency at the Axis Theater at World Hollywood Resort &amp On line casino listed here that had its debut on Friday. Magical factors are taking place all about her — ornate sets, clever online video shows, fiery dancing — but Ms. Spears is there mainly to activate memories, to be a souvenir for the eyes. Rarely did the voice booming out in excess of the speakers appear to be coming straight from Ms. Spears’s mouth. Usually a notch or 3 much less dedicated than her backup dancers, she was at moments downright listless.

But that is not new: Ms. Spears has long been the pop star most obscured by her own tunes. Particularly in the next 50 % of her career, since the mid-2000s, the period that followed her tabloid-documented meltdowns, she’s been putty for producers, who give her muscular tracks that inquire tiny of her vocally — and even less emotionally — but depart her with an air of electricity and control.

Judging by the show’s narrative, she was invested with that energy by darkish forces. Early in the night, throughout the melancholic “Everytime,” she was a winged angel slipping to earth, swarmed by vampiric dancers in all black when she landed. When they fled, Ms. Spears was remade. Now in a goth dominatrix outfit, she shifted gears to a medley of

“…Baby One particular More Time” and “Oops!…I Did It Once again,” the two early hits that cemented Ms. Spears’s image as understanding na?f.

This was Ms. Spears at her toughest during this show, which handles about two dozen songs from the entire span of her career, and which she’ll repeat some 100 occasions more than the subsequent two many years. In basic, the set layout was more imposing than she was. At details she done from inside of a ring of hearth, on best of a rolling pyramid, leaping off a massive prop tree and underneath a sheet of h2o slipping from the ceiling. Even throughout “Freakshow,” when she had an audience member — in this situation, the “Extra” host Mario Lopez — sure in a harness so she could wander him like a canine, she came off playful, not salacious. (Ms. Spears then signed a T-shirt for him.)

“Britney: Piece of Me” comes on the heels of Ms. Spears’s energetic but rarely inspiring eighth album “Britney Jean” (RCA), which sold only about 107,000 copies in its first week, the lowest opening of her career. She may have the name recognition of a global superstar, but not the drawing electricity she had even a couple of several years in the past. Performing below, in this 4,600-seat corridor, is a comparatively minimal-threat proposition, and does not demand that she increase her relevance. (The first one from “Britney Jean” was “Work Bitch,” a nod to “It’s Britney, bitch.”)

This is also a transitional moment for Las Vegas, a town turning into much less reliant on more mature-audience-skewing musical revues and leaning far more greatly on nightclubs. Ms. Spears’s show is a midpoint among the then and now, a legacy act with cross-generational attraction giving a present that may well as nicely have been operate by a D.J. (This newly renovated theater, too, is a hybrid, with two standing-room pits and a row of V.I.P. bottle-support tables abutting the stage’s lip.)

“Piece of Me” is most likely the minimum staid of the solitary-artist Vegas residencies almost everything about it, save Ms. Spears, is splashy and prime quantity. The costumes, by Marco Marco, ended up lively, and the choreography, by the Squared Division, was strong, specifically throughout “Scream &amp Shout,” when dancers maneuvered a pair of circular hamster-wheel-like constructions. As for Ms. Spears, the edition of her shown on screen — from previous video clips and the like — practically constantly seemed more self-confident and far more comfortable than the Ms. Spears who was onstage.

That distinction was only heightened by the simple fact that throughout the evening, 1 of Ms. Spears’s disciples, Miley Cyrus, was at a entrance row V.I.P. desk, dancing enthusiastically and singing along. If Ms. Spears is one of the final Stepford pop stars, Ms. Cyrus is a new design — unpredictable, self-deciding, really entertaining.

Ms. Cyrus has extended pledged loyalty to Ms. Spears as her childhood idol, and even collaborated with her on a music from her Ms. Cyrus’s album, “Bangerz” (RCA), even though Ms. Spears sounds robotic, particularly up in opposition to Ms. Cyrus’s organic effervescence. But Ms. Cyrus’s presence in Las Vegas — she was 1 of a handful of superstars at this display, together with Katy Perry and Selena Gomez — wasn’t wholly to display her devotion to Ms. Spears.

Later on that evening, she hosted the opening of Beacher’s Madhouse at the MGM Grand, an extension of the rowdy Los Angeles put up-vaudeville nightclub of the same identify. What had appeared, up shut, like a night time for Ms. Spears’s coronation as the most recent of this city’s marquee names was in simple fact just a prelude. Ms. Spears may possibly have hosted a cool party, but the night went on without her.

“Britney: Piece of Me” continues by way of 2015 at the Axis Theater at Planet Hollywood Resort &amp On line casino in Las Vegas 855-234-7469,

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