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Concert review

Britney Spears rocks MGM National Harbor with arsenal of hits

It’s hard to believe that Britney Spears has entertained us for close to three decades.

She came on the scene in 1992 as a contestant on “Star Search,” and honed her stage presence during a stint on “The Mickey Mouse Club.” And then, in 1998, she reintroduced herself to the world as a solo pop artist.

Spears, who appeared on stage with a runway strut, a blond mane and what seemed like an endless collection of bedazzled cut-out bodysuits, commanded the sold-out crowd at The Theater at MGM National Harbor on Friday night. The near two-hour concert featured an arsenal of hits — 25 to be exact.

She started the evening off with the uptempo, sassy “Work [Expletive],” which eventually led into “Womanizer” and the major hit, “Oops!... I Did It Again.”

The set served as a reminder that many of Spears’ songs are modern-pop classics. You could take at least a dozen that she performed, release them today and they wouldn’t sound dated.

It’s no wonder that the crowd responded the way it did.

They screamed — especially when she performed “Toxic” or each time Spears reappeared on stage after more than a half dozen costume changes. They mimicked the dance steps. Most sang along in unison. They were transported back to nostalgic moments from the past 20 years, when Spears ruled the charts. They were once again under her spell.

The concert had all the bells and whistles. She had 14 highly skilled dancers to set the tone for each uptempo routine. The dramatics were amplified by billowing fog, continuous images of Spears on the stage’s mega screen and an abundance of flashing lights.

It was what you would expect from an entertainer with a worldwide following, though the concert was not without fault.

Spears appeared to be a half-step off the choreography at times, and occasionally looked to her backup dancers to carry out the routines’ intricate details. She appeared to lip-sync almost the entire performance. But the energy she exuded meshed with the familiarity of the setlist, and kept the crowd on its feet for almost the entire show.

Highlights included: a jungle-inspired “Toxic” set; a medley of Missy Elliott hits where she and her dancers free-styled; an avant garde approach to “Circus” and a bondage scene where she put a male audience member in a harness and leash, and walked him on all fours across the stage during “Freakshow.” It was classic Spears, and her fans loved it.

The concert ended as strong as it began, which was impressive given the amount of dancing and energy she exerted. Spears performed “Till the World Ends,” already a party anthem. She added pulsating lights and enough metallic confetti to give the New Year’s Eve display in Times Square a run for its money.

She genuinely looked pleased with herself, and her fans most certainly were. As she’s done countless times in her career, Spears did it again.

john-john.williams@baltsun.com

twitter.com/popcouturejjw4

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