Britney Spears delivers a complete show

All those crazy things Britney Spears has done in the past three years … they’ve only made her fans love her more, judging by the deafening chants of “Brit-ney! Brit-ney!” before and after she took center ring last night at the Mellon Arena.

Since she was a teen, we’ve watched Britney rise and fall, and repeat, and now her star is burning bright again, with a No. 1 single and what might be the biggest spectacle any pop artist has put on a touring stage.

By Scott Mervis, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The money saved on silly little things like live musicians has been put to grand use in a Cirque-style production with dozens of dazzling acrobats, dancers, ninjas, clowns and strong men, and circus train full of props to lock up and unleash the star.

There were no malfunctions, wardrobe or otherwise, in the Pittsburgh show. And Britney, with a head full of hair, or a fantastic wig, looked radiant and in charge as ringmaster and seductress. Each song was choreographed like a video, ranging from the S&M scene of “Circus” to the lush Bollywood of “Me Against the Music” to the Phantom of the Opera look of “Freakshow.”

Britney wore a headset mike, but there was little need to. It was all clearly piped in. The only time when the vocals seemed even remotely live was on the one ballad, “Everytime.” Unlike old pal Christina Aguilera, who had her own circus, Ms. Spears sings these songs once in the studio — with much help from auto-tune — and the rest is smoke and mirrors.

Still, the demands on her were impressive in this circus: Along with the dancing and running in heels, she spun from ropes, disappeared in trap doors and executed lightning-quick costume changes, starting with the ringmaster suit and peaking with a sheer, tattooed body suit on “Breathe on Me/Touch of My Hand.”

When she played here earlier in the decade, people would complain if it got too suggestive. Now the only boundaries are legal ones, as the girls who were screaming back then for “… Baby One More Time” are grown up and back with their boyfriends and girlfriends rather than their moms.

Last night, they got more of an interpretation of the songs than a performance of them. But they still got their money’s worth. If there were an awards ceremony for tours, the “Circus” tour would be a leading contender for choreography, costumes, stunts, props and visual effects.

The Pussycat Dolls opened with a no-frills, 45-minute set pumped with piped-in music, aerobic dancing and the stunning presence of lead Doll Nicole Scherzinger.

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