I saw Britney Spears in Vegas last weekend. Britney has been doing a residency in Vegas the past couple years, so when friends asked if I wanted to see her in concert, I eagerly said I would go. Britney became a superstar about the same time I moved to Los Angeles. I still remember hearing the guys in the youth hostel I was living in debate whether her parents were contemptuous for letting her get breast implants at the tender age of 17. Her ROLLING STONE cover that month showed a much “fuller” Britney than we had seen in previous months. Her new tata’s seemed to scream “I’ve arrived” and I was dying to scream “I’ve arrived” also now that I was finally in the City of Angels destined to fulfill my own dreams for a career in the entertainment biz. Not as a pop singer of course, but as a writer.
I should start by saying I’m not a mega-fan of Britney or anything. I like her music, but have never bought her cds nor paid to download her songs. There has always been a soft spot in my heart for her though. Despite her mega success, I have always thought of her as something of an underdog. The stereotypical small town child shoved into showbiz by a stage mom dying to live vicariously in the reflected glory of her child’s stardom. Anyone who has owned a television over the last 17 years is pretty well versed in what a train wreck her life has been. Cutesy romance with fellow teen pop star Justin Timberlake comes to an end. Quickie Vegas marriage to a former high school beau (quickly annulled), then another marriage to an unemployed “dancer” whose girlfriend was already pregnant. Quickly pops out two kids amid rumors of drug use. Resulting fiasco divorce leads to parting of ways with the longtime manager who discovered her. Reckless partying with various “celebrity” (Paris Hilton anyone?) pals before falling into the inevitable clutches of a shady “manager” who (depending on whom you believe) plies her with more drugs before she full on melts down (via head shaving!) and ends up 5150’d (involuntary psych visit) so she can be returned to the (safe?) control of her father as her conservator. And now, having been stabilized, performing a residency in Las Vegas five nights a week. Brit Brit has had her fair share of highs and lows, that’s for sure.
Our “seats” (actually standing room only) were in the “Pit”, which is smack dab in front of the stage Britney performs at in the Axis Theater in Planet Hollywood. I had fantasized about beads of Brit Brit’s sweat hitting me as she danced rapturously to her lip synched hits. Britney made a dramatic entrance and proceeded to dance and (pretend) to sing her way through an amazingly well choreographed and elaborately staged series of her hits with an equally mesmerizing number of changes in costume and set pieces. High kicks and pelvic thrusts as impressive as those early in her career. Britney spoke to audience at several intervals, “hello Vegas” and “You guys are awesome” just to prove all of her voice (and enthusiasm) was not pre-recorded. She seemed even more fit and recharged than she had in her early 20s. Standing beside me were a couple of her hardcore superfans in their early thirties, whom I feared were going to spontaneously combust each time Britney strode near us onstage. Her Brit-ness was greeted with a “BRITNEY I LOOOOOOOVE YOU!” or “YASSSSSS GIRL” at an eardrum shattering pitch like trained seals. Stardom can be such a fickle beast, I actually thought it was great to see there really is loyalty these days, even if several cocktails have to be consumed to bring it out. Whether they were diehard fans, or merely attending her show because they happened to be in Vegas and had time for another show, the crowd in attendance ranged in age from teens all the way to their 70s. Purple-haired millenials swayed alongside grey haired Midwesterners, all seemingly under Brit’s spell.
“Are you having a good time?” Britney yelled out to the crowd, with a hint of the Louisiana girl she once was still detectable in her voice. I wanted to ask Britney the same thing. But “snow” flakes had started to trickle down from the ceiling. Hundreds of hands reached up to catch them, while simultaneously holding their camera phones to stream the show for their respective social media feeds. It was snowing in Vegas and Britney had done it once again.