Britney Spears has always thrived on spectacle as much as sound (if not moreso), so it's no surprise that her new album Femme Fatale would be followed by a concert dvd that's many songs from the new album combined with a lot of flash, dancers (but not dancing -- more below), costumes and sets. In that sense, Britney Spears Live: The Femme Fatale Tour dvd supports the idea that she's more style than substance. And yet, it may also let down her fans as well.
This concert dvd has 20 songs, along with a bizarre concert video of a secret agent plotting to take out Spears. (I guess they had to justify the "femme fatale" description of her somehow.) Unfortunately, the songs stay very close to the originals -- except for a swing feel to "If U Seek Amy" and a Middle Eastern take on "Boys" -- so there's little difference between hearing them live and on the albums. A few songs only get partial time, as when "Lace and Leather" is briefly played during a fan's on-stage treat, or when her first song, "...Baby One More Time" is used as in intro to Rihanna's "S&M." Musically, this concert won't win over her haters -- and there's not much new for fans. (I do like her cover of "S&M," though it was better when performed with Rihanna.)

But what about the spectacle, the concert experience? Well, there are lots of costume changes and elaborate sets, from an Egyptian barge to a medieval Japanese-themed finale. What's disapppointing, though, is the star herself. For some reason, Spears rarely uses her legs when dancing, resulting in an odd reverse Riverdance: Her armsare flowing and swaying, while her lower body is pretty stationary. This would be fine if she were relying on her singing to carry the day; since she's not, it's another letdown.

Overall, Britney Spears Live: The Femme Fatale Tour dvd is very disappointing. The songs from her disappointing new album don't improve live, there's little interesting happening musically, and even the "wow" factor of an elaborate live concert is missing. Also, there are literally no bonus features on the dvd, so folks who want a look behind the scenes of this tour are in for a disappointment.

Overall grade: D-

Reviewed by James Lynch

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