Britney Spears Kicks Off Remixed, Reimagined and Still Very Much Iconic ‘Piece of Me’ Residency in Las Vegas
"Now everything has changed..." - Britney Jean Spears, "Unusual You," Circus
For those of you who haven't already made the pilgrimage to the Holy Land — the Axis Theater at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, of course — start saving your coins: Britney Spears' Piece Of Me residency is now a bigger, better, cooler, funkier, urban-er and somehow even more iconic show than ever before. Some might even say it's...stronger than yesterday (REFERENCE).
In every way, the Holy Spearit exceeded expectations with her newly revamped Piece Of Me, which kicked off last night (February 13).
While most of the numbers from the original production are still present, from the first few seconds of the opening number alone, it becomes immediately clear that this new show is no minor tweaking.
That original intro video from Piece Of Me 1.0 — the total cheese-fest of vintage performance clips and a little Girlney transforming into Brit Brit? It's gone now. Instead, once the lights drop, the curtain just opens to reveal what looks like a mirrored "Hold It Against Me" throne centerstage. (Or was it a mirror fragment from Dream Within A Dream?) A strange voice starts speaking in Illuminati tongues overhead. (Or was it French? Too much screaming to know.) The dancers come marching out in militant formation. The music gets glitchy and apocalyptic. Smoke pours out from the stage. And then, poof — she appears in front of the mirror. (IN A TOP HAT, NO LESS.)
And, with a quick whip of the neck, she sets off into her Britney Jean motivational anthem. You better work, bitch.
As if to shut down those early rumors that the track was cut from the new set, Britney used her first crowd interaction of the night following "Womanizer," previously a crowd-assisted countdown leading into "3," to introduce her Blackout banger: "I think it's time for us to break the fucking ice."
And just like that, the Britney community was blessed with a new phrase.
Almost all aspects of the show have changed in some way. Most of the original songs have new choreography. (The "Womanizer" breakdown is absolutely astounding.) The dancer transitions are reimagined. (The marionette girl before "Circus"!) Even the set list is remixed: "Everytime" has now been pushed back a few songs, meaning the show is a non-stop dance fest for a solid 30 minutes before she even gets to take a breather in her Swarovski angel wings. From "it's time for us to break the fucking ice" to Mother Maryney in ten minutes flat...only Britney would.
The outfits are a considerable upgrade too (no bedazzled black bathing suits — for now, anyway), featuring lots of glittery embellishments. She also opted to wear some gigantic temporary tattoos all over her hot bodeh — no doubt the impact of spending time with her boys. The "Slave 4 U" look is especially major, providing a hint of that Onyx Hotel Tour's opening "Toxic" look from afar.
She did completely fly off the rails with her "Me Against The Music" look, though: That tie. That "17" crop top. The "Kisses" booty shorts. The heart on the butt. The high socks. And you just know that's the one she loves the most. Queen of DIY couture.
Despite being a bit of a curveball, "I Love Rock 'N' Roll" is a majorly fun addition to the set — largely thanks to the discarded Femme Fatale Tour gee-tar that's been sitting in Larry's garage for the past five years.
Britney was seriously feeling her full Rocker Femme Fantasy (available now at Kohl's) writhing on top of that massive bucking instrument, whipping her legs around and hair-flipping her way through, just as she did atop that motorcycle well over a decade ago. Seriously: she looked fearless.
"If U Seek Amy," on the other hand, found our ringleader going from "Circus" to full-on goober mode. Brit Brit was having only too much fun bringing her innuendo-filled Max Martin hit to life, over-acting every single line and tossing goofy faces at the crowd the entire time. She is, quite possibly, the dorkiest superstar alive.
Britney really has only just begun having her fun with this revamped set. The Missy Elliott dance breakdown, which comes out of nowhere, is really just an excuse for her and her dancers to cut loose to the sound of "Work It" (!) and "Get Ur Freak On." (She even threw in Missy's latest single, "WTF" — such an actual stan.) Also, a side note: The pit experience is insanely fun, but you will somewhat miss some good moments at the very front of the catwalk, and the Missy breakdown is one of them. (Of course, B-Girl's backside isn't exactly hard to watch, either.) Basically, you'll just have to see the show several times to enjoy all vantage points.
Also, the lasers! "I love the look of lasers," Britney matter-of-factly told The Las Vegas Sun a day before last night's kick-off. And you know what? They really do make a difference! The black light-neon "Boys" segment of the show now feels like a full-on rave with those colorful beams of light flashing throughout the theater.
Of course, some sacrifices from the original show's set were made: "3" is sadly nowhere to be found (yet somehow "Pretty Girls" lived to see another day). "Lucky" and "Perfume" are gone as well, though I can't imagine anyone's too devastated about that now that "Breathe On Me" and "Touch Of My Hand" are in the picture, instead.
Oh, right. About those: The "Breathe On Me"-"Touch Of My Hand" one-two punch is just about as mentally, physically and Spearitually overwhelming as anticipated.
Not since The Circus Tour has Brit Brit indulged in her In The Zone throbbing sex jam and self-stimulation ode on stage. As teased on her Instagram weeks ago, "Breathe" is like a sultry yoga session with her fellow pretty girls, full of tightly choreographed booty slaps, friendly hand-holding and deep body rolls in unison. And rather than recreating that make-out session with Leo Moctezuma in a bed during the song's breathy climax from The Onyx Hotel, Brit exchanges some subtly Sapphic, ever-so-brief simulated tongue action with a female dancer before turning out one more back-bending, hair-flipping breakdown.
Surprisingly, "Touch Of My Hand" is even better — and unexpectedly athletic.
Accompanied by two dancers, B gets into sensual seductress mode while being tossed, spun around and hoisted up into the air several times along the catwalk. At one point, she even casually pulls off an (assisted) back walkover, like she's 17 all over again. The actual nerve of this woman.
As a worryingly obsessed stan since '98, my objectivity when it comes to all things Godney Jean is at times, uh, questionable. And considering she's already been at this show for two years now, it wouldn't be too surprising if her enthusiasm for this job started to really wane.
Instead, she's hitting it harder than ever. Something has happened: Her confidence was off the charts. While she surely had plenty of incredible nights during the show's first version, she hasn't looked this happy, energetic, engaged, sexy, playful and aggressively in control on stage in years. Believe it: This really was her most impressive Piece Of Me performance to date.
Droppin' F bombs. Looking for "a sexy nerd" to pull onstage for "Freakshow." Grinding hard on her big guitar. Winking. Strutting. Giggling. Rolling her eyes.
"Who is this girl?" someone in the pit shrieked at one point. That is the Britney we know and love.
Remixed? Yes. Reimagined? Yes. Still iconic?
Britney Spears: Piece Of Me Remixed, Reimagined and Still Iconic Set List
"Break The Ice"
"Piece Of Me"
"Me Against The Music"
"I Love Rock 'N' Roll"
"...Baby One More Time"
"Oops!...I Did It Again"
"Scream & Shout"
"Boys"/Missy Elliot Dance Break ("Work It"/"Get Ur Freak On"/"WTF")
"I'm A Slave 4 U"
"If U Seek Amy"
"Breathe On Me"
"Touch Of My Hand"
"Till The World Ends"