In concert, Spears is a slave 4 fashion

Posted: December 12, 2001

Britney Spears paid a visit to the First Union Center on Monday night, and the runway show did not disappoint.

The pop princess opened with a beguiling little number in sequined black, reminiscent of an Elvis jumpsuit, but showing more skin than the King would have dared. Sequins were the theme of the concert, delicately balanced by an abundance of midriff and cleavage.

Halfway through the collection, Spears paraded around in a hat that easily could have doubled as a dark-chocolate cake topped with strawberry frosting. Meanwhile, apparently hungry dancers clad in '80s-retro, puffy-painted spandex, circled the fashion-forward chanteuse. Gasps were audible as the encore outfit, a shimmering cowboy ensemble, and wearer rose skyward on a lighted platform.

Plus there was music.

If it seems as if Spears' career has swelled at a faster rate than even her cup size, the succession of hits performed Monday proves her worthiness to fill the major venue. The show, nearly identical to her recent HBO special, was bookended by needlessly remixed versions of the already perfect "Oops! . . . I Did It Again" and " . . . Baby One More Time." Spears, backed by a band and a gaggle of dancers, gave the mostly teen and preteen crowd all the big singles, from "Crazy," "Stronger," and "Don't Let Me Be the Last to Know" to the latest, "I'm a Slave 4 U." The screaming persisted throughout.

When she delivered "What It's Like to Be Me," from the recently released Britney, it was difficult not to wonder what it is like to be her. Is she still a virgin, as she has said in the past? How much control does she have over her persona? Is she actually singing live?

Sometimes it takes being slapped in the face with multiple video screens, bubbles, smoke, and confetti to realize what every 13-year-old has known from the start: Britney Spears is not meant to be analyzed, she's meant to be enjoyed. And you would have been hard-pressed to find a fan who didn't enjoy the spectacle.

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