My ears were ringing before the show even started.
Though piercingly painful, the crowd's gleeful shrieks for Brit-Brit only added to the excitement. And what a show it was.
Yes, Britney lip-synced the whole thing. But let's be honest -- nobody was there to hear her sing.
I'll bet nobody cared. All that crowd wanted was to be dazzled, and Britney didn't let them down. The sheer spectacle of the whole thing was stunning.
Instead of a stage, there were three circular performance areas -- modeled after a three-ring circus. The tour is in support of Britney's new album, Circus, and the show is kind of like a wicked, hedonistic night under the Big Top ...
Before Britney hit the stage, we were treated to a video in which celebrity gossip queen Perez Hilton gushed about Britney's comeback. He was dressed like a screwy Victorian monarch, and gleefully gnawed on a scepter topped with a baby doll's head after giving his introduction. Weird.
For the first song -- the title track from Circus -- Britney descended from the ceiling in black boots and a red ringmaster's jacket. Brit seemed stiff and wooden for most of the track, but warmed up after a few minutes.
Over the course of the night, Britney seemed to make an entrance from every angle. She popped up from the floor, dropped down from overhead and, once, even hopped on a suspended human platform made from two interlocked contortionists and rode it up to the rafters.
All the while, a posse of dancers, contortionists and circus performers darted around the bubbly popstress. Fog rolled across the circular stage, sparks shot down from the ceiling and camera flashes flickered from the audience like strobe lights. At times, it was almost too much.
By the way, if you're planning on seeing this tour and haven't bought your tickets yet, try and get seats near the center of the venue. Britney tended to play to the audience nearest the middle ring.
No, there weren't any wardrobe malfunctions. But Britney did have a new getup for each song. She donned Middle Eastern garb for "Me Against the Music," a song she recorded with Madonna, and came out dressed as a police officer for the final song, "Womanizer."
Britney drew heavily from her Circus and Blackout albums for the set, and occasionally played a hit from years past. A bumping rendition of "... Baby One More Time" was a show-stopper, and would have made a better encore than "Womanizer." But now I'm being nit-picky.
This is Britney's first tour in about five years, and she's is eager to reestablish herself as one of the world's biggest female entertainers. If last night's show was any indication, Britney is well on her way.
Welcome back, Brit.
(Top, AP photo. Bottom, handout photo)