Britney Spears' two-year Las Vegas residency launched Friday, and the reviews aren't as terrible as one might imagine, though they're certainly tempered by reality:
- Piece of Me is "so winning that it barely needs [Britney] at all," writes Jon Caramanica in the New York Times. "Magical things are happening all around her—ornate sets, clever video displays, fiery dancing—but Ms. Spears is there mostly to activate memories, to be a souvenir for the eyes. Rarely did the voice booming out over the speakers appear to be coming directly from Ms. Spears’s mouth. Always a notch or three less committed than her backup dancers, she was at times downright listless." But everything about the production other than Britney herself "is splashy and top volume," including the "vibrant" costumes, "powerful" choreography, and "imposing" set design.
- The show was certainly cheesy, writes Sophie Schillaci at MTV, and "if you're looking for a powerhouse vocal performance in your Vegas entertainment," you'd be better served by Celine Dion. "But Britney fans will find no better show on the strip than Piece of Me," a "larger-than-life production" that will get the audience on its feet, and is more a nostalgic "greatest hits marathon" than a look forward.
- On Celebuzz, Jason Marshall offers up the pros and cons of the show. Among the highlights: Britney can still dance (in sneakers); her hair and costumes (there are "at least seven costume changes," including three wigs and a pair of huge angel wings) are fantastic; the 24-song set list is "amazing" and will have you singing along; the set is "awesome"; and the merch is "pretty incredible." Among the lowlights: Only the expensive seats include a close-up view of Britney (the huge screens don't actually show what's happening onstage); most of the songs have been shortened; Spears barely addresses the audience or gets personal; and oh yeah, she doesn't "appear to be singing throughout a lot of the show," though the pre-recorded remixes are still "all sorts of awesome."
- Similarly, Rolling Stone rounds up the "5 best and 5 saddest" moments from the show. Caryn Ganz concludes, "Viewed through a lens of diminished expectations ... Britney: Piece of Me is an entertaining tour through the 32-year-old star's nearly 15-year recording career" and features "flashes of greatness" ... as well as a few "true bummers."
- Time offers up some of the best videos from the event. "Who cares if Britney doesn’t actually sing during her show?" writes Courtney Subramanian. "What she gives in pumped-up dance moves and dazzling costume changes is a huge leap forward from her disastrous going-through-the-motions 2007 VMA performance."