Midway through Tuesday’s bubbly concert, Britney Spears asked her adoring crowd at the Kohl Center a question:
“How many of you out there have had their heart broken?”
Never mind that about 90 percent of the audience was between the age when you get training wheels taken off your bike and, oh, 15 years old.
Most probably haven’t had their nails broken yet.
It didn’t matter. Spears’ fans responded to her query with affirmative screams.
Leader of the female teen brigade in pop music, Spears enjoyed that kind of sisterhood bond with her youthful audience. Smiling a yard wide and alternately sporting five stylish outfits, Spears, 18, played the part of big sister well.
But if Tuesday was your first concert, kids, it gets better than this.
Spears performed only nine songs during a 70-minute show that experienced long gaps between numbers to let Britney change her wardrobe.
The spaces were filled by droning instrumentals from her band, segments featuring her seven-person dance troupe and goofy videos (hey, there’s Britney clowning around at rehearsal!).
But each song was choreographed to the hilt, as if a stationary Spears would ground the show. It was as much an aerobics class as a concert.
The high-energy, slick numbers carefully transformed her from “MTV Britney” to live performer. A few routines sparkled, especially “Born to Make You Happy,” which included a bit of Latin influence.
And even at their worst during Spears’ cover of Sonny and Cher’s “The Beat Goes On,” Spears and company delivered Las Vegas glitz.
Vocally, Spears ranks below Christina Aguilera but above Mandy Moore.
Where Spears excels, though, is in star power. It’s as if she is each personality of Spice Girl rolled into one. She’s a sex kitten one song (her navel should be insured) and a doe-eyed teen the next.
Still, aside from some racy photos she did for Rolling Stone magazine, Spears remains as wholesome as milk – which, incidentally, is the product of the tour’s sponsor (America’s Dairy Farmers and Milk Processors).
What the sell-out crowd of more than 14,000 will remember from Tuesday’s show was the spectacle: the pyrotechnics, Spears riding a carpet above the crowd, and thousands of glow sticks waving at once.
Indeed, it was quite a sight . . . on stage and before the show in the lobby. Fans clamored around souvenir stands eager to buy everything from a $20 Britney teddy bear to a $50 Spears hockey jersey.
The opening acts were eager to please, too.
But the popular guy trio LFO, with its wonderfully catchy hit “Summer Girls,” went overboard when it kept urging the crowd to vote for its new single on MTV’s daily show “Total Request Live.” OK, it’s still great pop music.
And Swedish newcomer Bosson is another act unsuccessfully trying to nudge himself into the Backstreet Boys and ‘N Sync turf.