Teenage screams all through the night

Britney Spears made her Thailand debut at the Impact Arena Muang Thong Thani, at the weekend. Photos courtesy of BEC Tero

Last Friday, “Britney Spears Live In Bangkok” became the fanciest party in town when diehard fans came dressed to the nines in iconic Britney looks. School uniforms with mini skirts. Bright red jumpsuits. Electric blue stewardess attire. There were some who went rogue with Thai traditional costumes and life-size cardboard cut-outs from Crossroads. Plushy pythons also made a popular prop to emulate that time when Spears draped a python on her body for the I’m A Slave 4 U performance in 2001.

For two consecutive evenings at Impact Arena, Thais were treated to a nostalgic affair that turned back the clock to Baby One More Time, Oops! I Did It Again and Toxic. It was an excuse to let loose, feel young, answer the call of the good ol’ early 2000s. Well, the pop princess herself was performing for the first time ever on our shores. Despite the preprogrammed format of the show, we all went crazy, and deservingly so.

There have been several high-profile concerts held at the Impact Arena, however, none really played out like the ones that took place here on Friday and Saturday evening. And, no, that was even before the concert itself started. It was the crowd’s energy, the way concertgoers — men, women, LGBTI — assembled their best Britney gear for the occasion and were just ready to have fun, as if it wasn’t really about the concert, but the fact that Spears had finally come here.

Excitement was in the air. It was palpable, pulsating through our veins. And when the Mother of Teen Pop herself appeared onstage, it was as if the hall was shattering under the thunderous scream, perhaps the loudest that Impact Arena has ever witnessed. All the bitter ticketing drama melted away precisely in that moment.

Spears, 35, sashayed out onto the stage in a green bodysuit that was more revealing than that of our notorious homegirl Lamyai Haithongkam. Well, we hope Uncle Tu didn’t mind it. Next to me, a guy started to Facebook Live of Work Bitch!. Four seats away, a woman was swinging her fake python around like a lasso (clearly she’s watched Wonder Woman).

Spears greeted the crowd in her fast, high-pitch shrill and no one could really decipher the message. But she spent no time chit-chatting, not even to say sawasdee or khob khun like some artists tend to overdo when in Thailand.

Everything that followed was wild. Laser beams blinded us. The stage was engulfed with smoke. The stands shook from the crowd jumping. We saw a man — one lucky fan was chosen for each night of the show — being leashed by the neck and walked around like a dog by Spears. Around them, topless dancers with hard, chiselled abs were getting the temperature rising with their provocative moves as numerous legendary pop hits were delivered to the crowd.

Among the tracks played — aside from all the titles previously mentioned — were Womanizer, Gimme More, Freakshow, Do Somethin’, If You Seek Amy, Slumber Party, Stronger and (You Drive Me) Crazy. No ballads. Not even Lucky. Casual concertgoers soon realised that the performance was not about the vocals at all, but it was rather a dance show — something true fans were already aware of.

The show was about the epitome of pop culture we’ve grown to love over the decades — the catchy tunes we have been dancing to since school — and, most importantly, it was about Spears. Her presence was still loved and cherished by the crowd, even after all these years since her breakout in 1999.

For her Thai performances, some may have felt Spears wasn’t entirely connected with her audience. Her dancing wasn’t always synchronised with her crew. Still, we have to give the artist credit for her effort. She threw herself on the floor and worked the stage almost non-stop for the duration of the show.

She may no longer be that teenage girl who danced in a school corridor. After going through injury, bad romance, children, that “blackout” period in 2007 and more, Spears emerged “stronger than yesterday”, at least on a personal level.

The concert was flawed, yes, and many would agree that Spears’ is past her peak. Still, it was already a grand opportunity to be able to admire and celebrate this iconic presence of modern music in such close proximity. And for all the true fans that were there at the show, the chance to see one of their most beloved artists was an experience of a lifetime, the best night of their life.

Britney Spears made her Thailand debut at the Impact Arena Muang Thong Thani, last week. BEC Tero

Britney Spears made her Thailand debut at the Impact Arena Muang Thong Thani, at the weekend. BEC Tero