Britney Spears/Pussycat Dolls Oracle Arena, 4/22/09: An Unrepentant Fans Thoughts

by Dakin Hardwick on April 23, 2009

Not from our show, but she did wear this... Thanks to for letting me use this image.

Not from our show, but she did wear this... Thanks to for letting me use this image.

I go to a lot of shows. And I get excited about them. Very excited about them. But few shows have I anticipated as greatly as this one. I love the bubble gum pop, and there is just something about her that has drawn me in from day one. I think she always has reminded me of the person that I had always dreamt of being when I was younger. I really like the idea of being a child star, then becoming a pop star, followed by making some very poor decisions in public, leading to heavy scrutiny from the media. I really enjoy the idea of fame at all costs, and Britney has lived that dream. She lives her life as if every day was her big return to the spotlight.

But I digress; you want to hear about the show. Just to answer a few of the questions that you may have before reading on-

No, she did not refer to Oakland as Seattle, or Santa Barbara, or Sunol, or any other town she may have been thinking about that day. In fact, she did not address us by name of our city at all.

She did not storm off the stage because of pot smoke.

She did not fake a knee injury to get out of performing.

She did not sing live.

That being said, on with the review:

We arrived at the arena at 7:45. It had appeared that the doors weren’t open yet, which is frustrating when the show starts at 8 pm. Opening was The Pussycat Dolls, whom I had seen twice before, so I wasn’t overly upset about missing the beginning of their set. They were pretty efficient about getting people in the door at that point, and we were at our seats by 8:05, only missing one song.

Nicole & Co all seem to know what they are doing. They used the staging, which was designed to emulate a three ring circus, to their advantage. Each member of the group was giving full attention to a different portion of the crowd, and it somehow felt very intimate. The choreography was spot on, and the setlist flowed nicely, hitting all of the hits while sprinkling a few deep cuts from the new album, but not too many that the audience got bored. The biggest surprise was that it seemed they actually were singing live. The biggest disappointment was the need to do their re-write of Jai Ho (from the movie Slumdog Millionaire).

And just in case people are keeping score, here’s the set list as far as I recall:

I Hate This Part
Watcha Think About That
Jai Ho
When I Grow Up

My assumption is that we missed Don’t Cha, because a group like this wouldn’t skip out on their biggest single.

After a few minutes of down time, the crowd was treated to a performance by a group called “Big Apple Circus”, which was really a few of Britney Spears’ dancers doing some acrobatics. It was fun, but nothing exceptional. I thought the diversion was a nice tactic to ease the time between acts.

Britney came dressed as a ringmaster, only wearing hot pants. She opened with the song Circus, which seemed appropriate considering the theme of the show. Unlike other pop shows that I have been to in recent years that have used this same theme (Christina Aguilera, Panic! At The Disco, and Motley Crue to name a few), the production never actually lost this theme. At all times, there were acrobats or clowns, which I am sure is a metaphor for Britney’s day-to-day life, but also was pure entertainment. She jumped straight in to Piece Of Me, complete with faux newspaper headlines on the video screens reminding us all of Brit’s bad decisions made over the last decade.

The rest of the set was pretty uneven. The show consisted primarily of songs from her last 2 records, which are fine headphone records, but lack any songs that really have the punch you need in an arena setting. The arrangements were trying hard to be Phillip Glass meets Timbaland, but ended up sounding like the stoner that lives downstairs that thinks since he has an 808 he can produce hip hop. The choreography was solid, but it also showed off the fact that Britney really hasn’t been taking the best care of herself. In the past, her dancing was the bread & butter of her career, but last night it seemed that she was just window dressing for her back up troupe. The only real high point in the main set was the masturbation tribute “Touch Of My Hand”, which consisted of Brit sitting on a couch while two acrobats came down from the sky to assist Britney in her efforts while flying in the air.

Aside from a few minor singles, such as Do Something & If You Seek Amy, she seemed desperate to avoid the hits, which was a major downfall. If you aren’t going to wow with the spectacle of the show, the least you can do is sprinkle a few gems throughout the show. In fact, the first time the crowd got really excited about a song was during a set change, when her band did a live remix of Marilyn Manson’s version of Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This), which was pretty awesome. The band played along, adding a bit of an electro crunch to it, and her backup singers adding some cool harmonies to the mix. It sounded almost a bit like Metric doing a Manson cover, but using the original vocal track.

After about 75 minutes or so of deep album cuts, she gave an inspired reading of I’m A Slave 4 U where she did a nice job at tormenting her male dancers, reminding us why she is a star, then let each dancer do a solo set, killing the momentum of her first big hit of the night. Then she came back, and gave us a quick run through of Toxic & …Baby One More Time, which seemed like she added them to the set to appease the crowd, and then ended the show with Womanizer.

All in all, I did have a good time, but I could understand anyone feeling slighted by the experience. I will go see her again, but I also understand why people wouldn’t.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Dakin Hardwick April 23, 2009 at 5:40 pm

Here’s Britney’s Set List:

Circus (Funky Remix)
Piece of Me
Ooh Ooh Baby/Hot as Ice
If U Seek Amy
Me Against the Music
Get Naked
Britney’s Hotline
Breathe on Me/Touch of My Hand
Do Something
Baby One More Time (Remix)

It was the same for every show on the tour


Marie April 23, 2009 at 8:44 pm

It is so true that the Pussycat Dolls managed to make an arena feel “intimate” while Britney managed to make you feel like you were watching a bootleg video from Australia. Luckily Britney makes good videos, but still, it was lacking to say the least.


Marcelina April 23, 2009 at 8:54 pm

Sounds like you had a pretty good time. I’ve seen The Pussycat Dolls and they are FANTASTIC live! Britney never struck me as much of a performer but just my opinion. Awesome review but you really should digress less…. 🙂


Sarah April 28, 2009 at 1:50 pm

Thanks for the review…. I will definitely save my money. Brit doesn’t seem to be worth the price of admission.


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