It was a strip tease with the emphasis on the tease, a lot of flesh and a little in the way of a discernible show.
There Britney Spears was, on her knees, engaged in the beginnings of a faux lap dance for a dude in jeans and a black T-shirt drawn from the crowd.
Spears never got all too close to the guy, and it was just as well, for she kept the audience at arm’s length throughout her brief performance, if you want to call it that.
Taking the stage in a sparkly bra, a barely-there white skirt and matching high-heeled boots, Spears lip-synched through snippets of a handful of her hits, as detached and workmanlike as a toll booth worker perfunctorily handing you your change.
She swished her hips, rolled her shoulders and crawled on her knees, but it was inherently stilted, like a junior high dance class recital in mom’s lingerie.
Spears began by shaking her stuff to a few seconds of "Baby One More Time," her first hit, before breezing though an equally abbreviated take on the libidinous "I’m A Slave 4 U," writhing like a snake with its tail end caught in a garbage disposal.
Then came quicksilver versions of "Breath On Me," "Do Somethin’" and "Toxic."
And that was it, after an hour-and-a-half wait from the announced showtime of 8 p.m.
No, Spears didn’t look chubby, nor did her wig fly off. Thus the show was stripped of any tabloid-type curiosities that would have made this snoozer at least half-interesting.
The proceedings were kept under unusually tight wraps. Cell phones were confiscated by security at the door, to be returned after the show, and no photos of any sort were allowed of Spears.
And to think people paid to see this. On purpose, even.
In actuality, there weren’t that many Spears diehards who coughed up the dough to catch this brief spectacle.
The 2,000-seat venue was at less than two-thirds capacity, with row upon row of empty seats in the balcony.
Before the start of the show, scalpers were hocking tickets at $20 below their face value.
And understandably so.
If this had been a radio promotion or a fan club freebee, then perhaps this half-baked concert would have been a bit more forgivable.
But at $60 a pop, even the most devout of Spears partisans had to think twice about spending that much for less than 15 minutes of a show.
Remember Madonna’s blond ambition?
Yeah, well, leave it to Britney to discover its inverse.JASON BRACELINMORE COLUMNS
REVIEW Who: Britney Spears When: Sunday Where: House of Blues Attendance: 1,300 (est.) Grade: D-