The Spin & Co. arrived early to Bridgestone Arena Monday night for the Nashville installment of Britney Spears' Femme Fatale Tour, which we were glad of — we heard there were Groupon purchasers lined up half the damn night trying to get their tickets sorted out. But no such problems for us. We sauntered in, happily accepted a free sample of cloyingly sweet Spears-branded perfume, and settled into our seats to catch the show.
It began on the dot at 7 p.m. with a pair of lip-syncing Australian DJs who, according to our date, looked like Kristen Wiig characters. Our thought about pre-show crowd-pleasing is this: If you’re not going to actually do anything but stand around and fumble with your headphones, cut out the pretense of “DJs” altogether and just play tracks while kids run around with Ribbon Dancers. We sorted out drinks for most of Jessie and the Toy Boys — the Toy Boys being, as far as we could tell, Evan P. Donohue and Johnny Galecki.
We pity anyone still stuck in line during Nicki Minaj’s performance, easily one of the best pop performances we’ve ever seen. She’s a hyper-feminine Freakazoid, and Tina Turner-tiptoed around stage with her impressive group of all-female backup dancers. Dressed primarily in poofy pantaloons and what looked like Uggs, Minaj ran through some of her best: “Your Love,” “Save Me,” and no duh, everyone’s favorite, her verse from “Monster,” complete with Banshees flying around stage.
Something we think we’ve only seen once before — and that was with Jay-Z — was the countdown clock, ticking off the minutes until the start of the performance. The dedication to professionalism was on point, though, and the clock was still running down to the second as the “Femme Fatale” sign lifted to reveal the set of Stargate. Opening with the delightfully Eurotrash “Hold It Against Me,” Britney ran through the motions of engagement before sitting upon a chain-link throne, claiming her title as Queen of Garbage Mountain.
It’s hard not to be very, very aware of her personal troubles while watching the show. There are some genuine crowd-pleasing numbers, including The Spin’s Mom’s favorite, “Womanizer,” but there is also the Rihanna
and Madonna covers cover — it is probably not the best idea to remind the audience of performers whose hearts are actually still in it. At one point, Spears pulled Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt onstage, cuffed him to a chair, sat on his shoulders and sang to him ... so that was something. The truncated version of “Baby One More Time” was a total cop-out, but we were happy to finally hear some legit Brit in “I’m a Slave 4 U.” The encore, on the other hand, was what the entire show should have been. “Toxic” and “Till the World Ends” are truly extraordinary dance songs, and the combination of levitating with angel wings in front of a pyro curtain was impressive indeed — we only wish we didn’t have to wait until the end of the night to see it.