OK. I admit it. I was at a Britney Spears concert on Sunday night.
I would go through the rigmarole of explaining how my girlfriend couldn’t find a single other sole in the world to accompany her, and that I was only dragged along kicking and screaming. I could claim that as she tried to push me through the entrance to the O2, security detected with special muso detecting equipment that I wasn’t really supposed to be there, explained that no one with any credibility or discerning music taste would be allowed to enter and that I would have to abstain. But the fact of the matter is, I thought I’d probably enjoy it really. And I did, without half the incumbent guilt I was expecting.
I was expecting to need be defiant about my attendance, I knew the ribbing I was in for from my friends, I’d already had a bit of it having told them where I’d be on Sunday night. The best way to deal with it would be to say “yeah, I went to a Britney gig, I loved it, and so would you, what are you going to do about it?” I’d planned a blog post about it being not only a good gig, but a fantastic gig, that all us serious musos could learn from. “You wouldn’t get juggling clowns, magicians and trapeze artists at a Mogwai show,” I’d say. “Stop being so pretentious everyone, I’m comfortable enough with my music taste to see Britney. Maybe there should be unicycling jugglers as part of the next My Bloody Valentine tour.”
Which might be true, but it’s not what I learnt. Some of you will not be surprised at all to hear that I went to a Britney Spears concert and learnt absolutely nothing. Nothing about music, anyway. This being a music blog, technically I shouldn’t be writing about it here.
Britney’s support act (apart from Ciara, who I thought I’d never heard of but did recognise some songs, she seems to be some kind of robot Beyonce emulation) was a circus. The same circus was integrated into the main performance, in this show that was billed as The Circus Featuring Britney Spears. Which sums it up really, Britney was constantly surrounded by dancers, clowns, acrobats, rollerskaters… for large portions of the night Britney was not even on the stage. She wasn’t really the main attraction of the night, and neither was her music. There was so much going on visually that thankfully I found I didn’t even need to pay too much attention to what was going on aurally. Discussion of how much she mimes seems laughably off the point, frankly, as if a Britney show is about music, let alone live singing.
There were people playing instruments, I had a good view of a viruoso drummer, but 80% of the rest of the crowd wouldn’t have been able to see him hidden in a pit to the side of the stage. Bizarrely the bass player was allowed to get up on stage at one point, but otherwise actual musicianship was kept discreet. Real gigs are about real musicians channeling their passion and energy through their instruments, they can involve other accoutrements to add to the experience but the music is the core. Which was far from the case on Sunday night. Sunday night was about massive circular video screens, circus performers, dance groups, lights, explosions and awe.
So what I saw was a probably the most spectacular (and spectacularly expensive) circus in the world, in the largest circus tent in Britain (the world?). Some blonde who is in the tabloids a lot was there too apparently, but I barely noticed. Sounds like a good night to me.