Show/Venue: Piece of Me at the Axis Theatre, Planet Hollywood
Date: Friday, January 31st, 2015
Starring: Britney Spears
After much begging to my NYC friends to come with me, I finally convinced some of my college buddies to fly to Las Vegas and meet me to see Ms. Britney Spears in the first year of her Las Vegas residency at Planet Hollywood. Naturally, I chose to go in January, so I could escape the cold of NYC and sweat it out in the desert for a bit.
I arrived at my hotel the afternoon of the show and met up with my friends, who were coming in from San Francisco. We dropped our things at our hotel room and immediately went in search of drinks and slot machines.
Then we picked up all our Britney merchandise before the show (plus, the items are cheaper in the hotel shop than in the show venue). I got a program, magnet and a tank top that says “It’s Vegas, Bitch” next to a profile photo of Britney. I was busy working on my Social Media (Twitter, Instagram) and even got a response from Hannah Spears, Britney’s dog. I was encouraged to take some photos and videos of the show to share with the world and to help build buzz about the show.
After getting ready in our hotel room at MGM, we made the trek over to Planet Hollywood. Other fans had already arrived early and the line ran around the bar just outside of the Axis Theatre. One we were through the security and ticketing lines, we saw several of Britney’s iconic costumes on display in large Plexiglas cases; the Ringmaster from “Circus,” the stewardess from “Toxic,” her black fringed number from “Work Bitch,” the red, leather jumpsuit from “Oops!...I Did It Again,” and my favorite, her childhood outfit from her audition on Star Search.
We got some drinks and found our seats. A large video screen was acting as a countdown clock until the show was going to start. I was just as excited to see Brandon Bryant, who I watched excel on So You Think You Can Dance and Sohey Sugihara, who I loved as part of the Fanny Pak Crew on America’s Best Dance Crew, clearly Britney got some great talent to support her in all of the shows.
The show opened with lots of pyro and Britney descended from the rafters in a big globe-shaped cage. After all that Britney’s been through over the past few years, she looked in good shape and ready to perform. Her dancers lead her down the staircase, as they break out of some of the choreography from the video to “Work Bitch.”
Britney then rolled right into “Womanizer” and interacted with her dancers throughout the number. Her production team then turns on her mic, so she can talk to the crowd, before clearly going back to singing with backing tracks for the rest of the show. For “3,” the dancers bring out various metal pyramids on casters, so they can dance in them and roll Britney around the stage. The dancers jump and flip from one pyramid to another and then bring out a bar, so Britney can do some more of the choreography from the “3” video.
Then came Britney’s first of many costume changes and the “slow” song portion of the evening. In previous shows, Britney has always sang the slower songs live, but didn’t take that chance her. At the beginning of “Everytime,” she comes down from the rafters, attached to white angel wings, as fake snow comes out into the crowd. Britney follows this up with a slightly changed, “…Baby, One More Time,” as she changes into an all-black number and the set becomes dark, with the dancers clearly influenced by the movement in a traditional Paso Doble.
During her next costume change, the dancers roll out wooden panels with sections that have been broken in. I knew this could only mean that one of my favorite songs, “Me Against The Music,” was up next. I was hoping Britney would wear her fedora and tie ensemble from the video, but she came out in a black baseball cap and bodysuit. She & her dancers hit some of the familiar moves from this video, before Britney walks upstage to the fans in the pit and starts “Gimme More.”
The next section of the show was probably my least favorite part as Britney performs “Break The Ice,” “Piece Of Me” and “Scream & Shout.” I’m not really a fan of her song with Will.I.Am and the other songs were a bit of a throwaway. Next up was “Boys,” which is one of my favorite songs from the Britney album, and this further proved that Pharrell’s beats stand the test of time. However, at this show, they changed up the arrangement and doused everyone in black-light responsible clothing, which took away from the greatness of the original song.
A few lesser known hits followed with “Perfume” and “Get Naked (I Got A Plan)”, before it was finally time for “I’m A Slave 4 U!” The arrangement was changed slightly and the set shifted to bondage influenced décor. I was anxiously waiting for the dance breakdown to see Britney hit the infamous Brian Friedman/Wade Robson choreography, but she only seemed to be half into it, at least the dancers were full out!
Sadly, we weren’t at a show where Britney pulled a celebrity on stage during “Freakshow” to be chained up and walked on a leash. (I saw on Instagram that the following night, Jesse Tyler Ferguson’s husband, Justin Mikita, was pulled up on stage.) After that came, “Do Somethin’,” which I was never really into when it first came out, and I can't remember much about this performance.
The next act featured “Circus” as the dancers changed into circus-themed costumes and Britney appeared amid a ring of fire. Some of the familiar moves that I remembered from her Circus Tour in Chicago, all came back as the ring of fire rotated around Britney on her own platform.
Then came “I Wanna Go,” where Britney & her female dancers performed in front of mirrors. However, any time I hear this song, I can’t help but think of the Bravo TV ad for “Summer by Bravo” that aired a few years ago. (I think Andy Cohen would be proud of this pop culture Pavlov’s Dog moment.)
Britney then closes up with show with a string of her greatest hits, “Lucky,” “Toxic,” “Stronger” and “(You Drive Me) Crazy.” The best part of this set is when the giant tree comes onto the stage during “Toxic”, and which if you watched her MTV special, you know all the tricks that had to happen so the tree could fit onto the stage and so Britney could fly off the branches and not get hit, as the tree rotates.
Britney executed the jump, but just in case they production team didn’t want you to watch her being unhooked from her harness, a few of her dancers are busy doing back handsprings all the way across the stage, as she gets setup. I particularly enjoyed the costumes for this portion of the show. The dancers were wearing various pieces of graphically printed neon; tiny tanks/shirts and pants for the boys and several variations of bodysuits for the girls.
The closing number was “Till The World Ends,” where most of the crowd was up on their feet and dancing. It was a great way to end the show with tons of neon lights and burst of confetti.
Overall, I had a great time at the show and Britney kept everything moving. The show was just over an hour and a half, so there was still plenty of time to head out onto The Strip to eat, drink and gamble. I just wish that Britney had hit the dance moves a little harder. I felt like she was going through the motions, but not quite there; a solid 80%. I would recommend going, because the show is great, but you should almost go for the dancers’ performances, as they are full out the whole show!
1. Work Bitch
5. …Baby, One More Time
6. Oops!...I Did It Again
7. Me Against The Music
8. Gimme More
9. Break The Ice
10. Piece Of Me
11. Scream & Shout
14. Get Naked (I Got A Plan)
15. I’m A Slave 4 U
17. Do Somethin’
19. I Wanna Go
23. (You Drive Me) Crazy
24. Till The World Ends