ATLANTA Seventeen-year-old pop sensation Britney Spears
mesmerized 5,000 young fans at the Atlanta Civic Center on Thursday as
she played material from her quadruple-platinum album ...
Baby One More Time and songs by such influences as Madonna
and Janet Jackson during one of her first headlining gigs.
The sell-out audience, populated largely by teen and pre-teen girls,
shrieked and wailed with every hip wiggle, every variation in vocal
inflection and each costume change from Spears. Despite having only one
album of material to draw from, Spears came across as an assured,
confident entertainer during the hour-long set, the third performance of
a summer-long North American tour.
"We came all the way up from Orlando [Fla., about 440 miles away] to see
this show and it was awesome!," Margaret Campbell, 13, said. "Her costumes
were incredible, and the show was worth the drive."
Against a backdrop of billowing linen draped across a rope latticework,
Spears' five-piece band was perched atop a platform raised approximately
10 feet off the stage. From the center of the platform, a staircase,
framed by a swirling, Dali-esque handrail, descended to the stage.
The show began with six dancers performing to a funky, bass-heavy groove,
while snippets of Spears' talking could be heard. Spears then appeared
atop the band platform, wearing a pink vinyl midriff-baring tube top and
a pair of white vinyl pants with sewn-in pink kneepads. Her hair was
pulled into a bun atop her head, with a long blond ponytail extension
clipped on. Every inch of exposed flesh was dusted with glitter.
She started by running through several songs from ...
One More Time including "Soda Pop" (RealAudio
excerpt) and "(You Drive Me) Crazy." The album, released in
January, has made Spears an instant star; it quickly hit #1 on the
Billboard 200 albums chart and has now been in the top 10 for
nearly half a year.
Each song was supplemented by intense choreography from the dancers, and
Spears danced, too, whenever she wasn't singing. Eight mechanized
spotlights mounted on the band platform followed the petite singer
around the stage.
"I thought it was a beautifully decorated stage," said Leslie Hicks, 41,
from Cartersville, Ga., who brought her two teenage daughters. "The whole
show was very professionally done."
After a few songs, two of Spears' dancers pulled a young fan identified
as Dustin from the audience, and Spears asked the crowd, "Have you guys
ever been in love?" The audience screamed a resounding "Yes!" and Spears
proceeded to croon her ballad "Born to Make You Happy" to Dustin.
After quickly changing into a white tube top and denim overalls, Spears
returned and sat on the steps by herself. "I used to have a boyfriend,"
she began, and the crowd howled as if in disbelief.
"Oh yeah, I did," she reassured them, "and he really broke my heart. I
don't ever want to feel that way again." She then sang "From the Bottom
of My Broken Heart."
Spears appeared to be singing over a pre-recorded track at times, but
during some songs including a cover of pop-rockers Journey's 1982
hit "Open Arms" she obviously handled the vocals by herself.
Though Spears sang confidently when she was in the lower register, her
voice was thin when she reached for high notes.
Her bandmembers provided a loud, synthesizer-driven groove, capably
reproducing the tracks from Spears' album, and occasionally doing their
own thing filling one costume change, for example, by playing rap
duo Eric B. and Rakim's "I Ain't No Joke."
After the band played Madonna's "Vogue" while Spears' dancers moved to
the music, Spears appeared at the top of the stairs in a pink minidress
and feather boa and performed a truncated cover of Madonna's "Material
The band then segued into Janet Jackson's "Black Cat," as Spears ripped
off her dress to reveal a black leather halter top and a black leather
miniskirt. She sang faithful versions of both "Black Cat" and "Nasty."
But the loudest response of the evening was for Spears' encore, her
chart-topping song "...
excerpt). Wearing black thigh-high socks, a spangled pink tartan
miniskirt, a visible black bra and a sleeveless pink oxford, Spears
brought down the house.
Tina Shuford, 9, stood in her seat and sang along word-for-word at the
top of her tiny lungs. "This is my favorite song," Shuford said, as
singing all night long."
The evening was hosted by Johnny Wright, the manager credited with
discovering Spears, the Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync Spears opened
for the latter group in late 1998 and early 1999. Several of Wright's
newest finds, including singer Michael Fredo and the group Boyz-N-Girlz
United, opened for Spears.