One of the most fascinating pop stars of the past 20 years was back to hit us one more time with her biggest hits.

Britney’s Piece of Me tour is among the major musical blockbusters of 2018 with tickets for her Dublin performance – her first in seven years – selling out in less time than it takes to tie your hair in pigtails and romp in a school girl outfit.

She didn’t disappoint with a high tempo set that packed in her all of her enduring smashes. But she also showcased the stone-cold pop she’s been making since her return from the 2007 meltdown that saw her chased across LA by paps and shave all her off in protest about the price of fame.

Britney will never be mistaken for a world class vocalist such as Beyonce or a peerless self-promoter like Taylor Swift and the emphasis was on dancing and costume changes rather than rafter-raising vocals.

She preened in a glittering show-girl outfit during Work Bitch and Womaniser while Freakshow and Do Something saw her dressed as an x-rated aerobics instructor.

It was high-tempo and sometimes veering on pantomime, such as when dancers done up as fashionista vampires romped in a circle around Spears during …Baby One More Time.

A (un) lucky audience member was later plucked from the crowd to be “spanked” by Britney and then forced to crawl on his hands and knees. He seemed to be enjoying himself – or maybe that was just the shock wearing off.

Perhaps the most striking aspect of the show was the enthusiasm of the crowd. Man Spears‘ fans were kids when …Baby One More Time electrified the charts and there was a sense that they were reliving beloved childhood memories as they sang along and took selfies.

If there was a criticism it was that Spears sometimes resembled a black hole at the centre of her own party. She twirled and stomped – but never really acknowledged the love in the room.

Britney will, to a certain generation, always be a metaphor for the price paid when fame comes to quickly. But as far as the faithful at 3Arena were concerned she is a pop princess for the ages and and even if she wasn’t quite basking in the adoration this was nonetheless a homecoming to remember.


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