Tim de LiSLe GiG of The week

The Mail on Sunday - Event - - MUSIC -

Open Air The­atre, Scar­bor­ough On tour un­til Sat

At the English sea­side, among the sad, shut­tered shops, there are now plenty of posters for gigs. In Skeg­ness there’s the Great Bri­tish Al­ter­na­tive Mu­sic Fes­ti­val, fea­tur­ing the sounds of the late Seven­ties. In Mar­gate the retro theme park Dreamland puts on dance-mu­sic week­ends. In Black­pool there was meant to be a gig this week­end from Mariah Carey, though she may not have known what she’d signed up for: her web­site listed it as be­ing in Lon­don. The show was can­celled any­way.

In Scar­bor­ough things are go­ing more smoothly. The Open Air The­atre has had a lively sum­mer sea­son, fea­tur­ing Lionel Richie, Gary Bar­low and now Brit­ney Spears. Like Mariah, Brit­ney may well be hazy about the ge­og­ra­phy. At Brighton Pride three weeks ago she man­aged to yell ‘What’s up, Brighton?’, but only af­ter ask­ing one of her dancers where they were.

Greet­ing the crowd in Scar­bor­ough, she plays it safe: ‘Hey UK!’ She is on what could be a tricky mission, bring­ing Las Ve­gas to York­shire. Her show, Piece Of Me, which ran for four years on and off at Planet Hol­ly­wood in Ve­gas, has be­come a world tour. Tonight it faces a chal­lenge sel­dom found in Ne­vada: heavy show­ers.

The women of East Rid­ing are all dressed up with pon­chos on top, but it would take more than rain to get Brit­ney into an ex­tra layer. At 36, with sons of 11 and 12, her idea of a cos­tume change is still swap­ping a black bra for a red one. If she were a brand she would be Victoria’s Se­cret, saucy but safe.

You can see why she turned to Ve­gas. Never mind the dol­lars (137 mil­lion of them in total rev­enue), there’s the struc­ture. The show is a se­ries of dance rou­tines with some mu­sic at­tached, and Brit­ney, who was three when she em­barked on dance lessons, looks hap­pi­est when she falls into line.

Whether she’s singing live is de­bat­able, as ever, but at least some mu­si­cians are vis­i­ble this time. The ma­te­rial they pump out is mixed. Baby One More Time is still Brit­ney’s great­est hit, and it’s nearly 20 years old.

Her only other clas­sic is Toxic, which is briefly rein­vented as a misty bal­lad be­fore turn­ing back into a Bhangra-tinged banger. Oth­er­wise, the high­light is some­thing I’ve never seen be­fore: lasers in the rain, sparkling like silent fire­works.

The crowd lap it all up, so Brit­ney gets one star for that – she’s an en­ter­tainer. There’s an­other for un­flag­ging en­ergy – she’s a trouper. The third star is for be­ing here af­ter her melt­down of a decade ago. She’s a sur­vivor. brit­neyspears.com

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