Britney braves the rain to put on a show in Scarborough
Britney Spears fans were never going to let a return to typical British summer weather put a damper on her arrival back in the UK.
After Tokyo, Las Vegas, Berlin and New York, Scarborough’s Open Air Theatre was perhaps not the most obvious setting as Britney brought her Piece of Me tour to Britain.
Europe’s biggest open air theatre is, of course, outdoors.
And the drizzle started as the support act, Pitbull, took to the stage and did not really stop until Britney was halfway through Toxic, near the end of her spectacular set.
But from the moment Britney strode on the stage and launched into Work Bitch, nobody cared about the weather.
In fact the mass of cagoules, disposable waterproofs, ponchos and sodden look-a-like schoolgirl outfits massed in front of her only served to heighten the exotic sight of the pop star in her now trademark lattice of leather straps and underwear essentials.
“She must be frozen,” said one fan.
But by Womaniser – second on the set-list – even he had forgotten about the rain as the hit-a-minute singalong was in full swing.
Only the appearance stage-left of the figure of a roadie with a squeegee broom during the opening two numbers provided a flickering reminder.
By the time Baby One More Time began, it looked like every single person in the bowl-style venue was singing every word of every song.
This is a show Britney has honed in more than 200 performances during her Las Vegas residency and dates across North America and Asia.
The spectacular musical numbers were delivered with the same precision as the North Bay miniature railway which winds through the Open Air Theatre when it is not playing host to pop music royalty.
It is so rehearsed that there is little room for any spontaneity but the Scarborough audience helped a bit by providing the now obligatory prelude to Gimme More with a shout of “Who is it?” from those standing at the front before the star begins with “Britney bitch”.
And, during Freakshow, “Thomas” from the audience got to get up on stage and be walked around on a leash – at one point appearing to confuse Britney with his spontaneous moves.
There is always talk of how much she lip syncs, the fact she is clearly not a natural dancer and the clothing choices of a 36-year-old mother of two.
But not one of the 6,000 on their feet in Scarborough cared about any of that.
This was carefree adoration from all her different groups of fans – those who brought their teenage memories from Britney’s turn-of-the-millennium pomp and a new group of teenage girls who were not even born when Baby One More Time sealed Britney’s place in the pop firmament after just one hit.
These youngsters appear to see her now as the godmother of Ariana Grande and Selena Gomez.
For those whose last live music experience in Scarborough was The Grumbleweeds at the currently-being-demolished Futurist Theatre in the 1980s, the fact the town is becoming a fixture for visiting pop stars on the arena circuit is a welcome surprise – even if Britney signed off with a “thank you so much UK” rather than a nod to the town.
Britney returned to the UK for the Scarborough show after a brief visit at the beginning of August to headline Pride in Brighton.
From North Yorkshire she moves on to Manchester, Dublin and Glasgow before a three-night stay at the O2 in London and dates in Birmingham and Blackpool at the end of the month.