International pop star Britney Spears must have felt there were enough eye-candy who attended her Manila concert last June 15 at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
It was a packed crowd from patron to the bleacher seats. And from her vantage point as everyone's apple of the eye, she exclaimed during her first concert in the Philippines: "Oh my goodness there's so many beautiful people here!"
Of course her assessment that there are "many beautiful people" in this side of the world surely does well with the Filipino audience. While it would have been a lot better if she was more conversational on stage, everybody felt it was okay that she let her performance did the talking. She was a workhorse up providing first-rate entertainment with all the production values that came with it.
It also gave her comment much more impact. The same way when she labeled them "amazing."
Or asked everybody to "play with me" by letting out the loudest cheer possible.
At one point, when a male spectator was up the stage for a particular number, she asked, "Where are you from?"
When she learned he's from Hawaii, she mused, "Oh my goodness I like mulatto better."
Then, appreciating the guy's guts, she asked the crowd, "Everyone give it up for Akon."
Interestingly, Britney's high-pitched, fast-talk style of communicating with her live audience made it difficult for everyone to actually get what exactly she was saying each time. Whether that's really Akon or another name.
But again that's too small a worry as fans were more glued to experiencing the sights and sounds of a world-class performance.
She saved the most heartfelt spiel for last, saying, "Thank you so much Manila; such a wonderful night with all of you."
On that note, here are some points to ponder why it was a wonderful Thursday night for everyone lucky enough to be inside the venue.
Loaded: Britney is a major music force primarily for the hit songs that make her fans sing along. She performed a lot of them, mostly in changed tempo to create some new flavor. Initially she sang "Toxic" not in its original speed, and so when it returned to its familiar upbeat mode, everybody made some noise. The list is long: "Baby One More Time," "Womanizer," "Crazy," "Slave 4 U," among others.
Superb Production: A sea of smartphones with its video recording button on was a constant sight throughout the night because of the creative, artistic showcase of lighting and carefully selected images complementing the songs being performed.
MJ-ish: The movements of the back up dancers were snappy as Britney herself stood out always with gracefulness. She has a way to move both sexy and aggressive, punctuated by her signature throw-the-dice hand gesture and toss-up-to-air-the-blonde long hair routine. At some sequences it felt like it's the kind of choreography that Michael Jackson would have done had he survive past the This Is It rehearsals.
Sexy in her own Skin: The artist whose first album became the biggest-selling debut album by any act was expected to show some skin whether wearing black or red bikini. She's not utterly sexy in the strictest sense but the way she carries her wear is what makes her alluring even from afar.
Un-sung hits: While it is a thematic concert that promises spectacular upbeat numbers, it won't have hurt if she settled down and sang (or if she is too tired already let the audience sing) songs like "Sometimes," "Everytime," "Lucky" and "Not A Girl, Not A Woman." The good thing was, no one felt like there was a need to boo Britney. She so earned their respect to even think about it.
Oops, fans did it again: In a poignant scene best credited to the musically inclined Pinoys, fans began singing along to the song "Oops I did it Again" being played out right outside the venue proper. The atmosphere was party-like; a collective expression of appreciation for having witnessed a show that was a class on its own.
Millennials and Gen-Xers together: This is one concert where no teenager from the '90s nor any form of millennial felt alienated. Britney, whose recording career began in 1999, both belongs to the '90s youth and the teens of today. Besides she has the pop sensibility of the gen-Xers and the aggressive, party-mode persona of millennials.
Brit pop: When Milli Vanilli was caught lip syncing back in the '90s, their career was cut short and the duo was never to resurface again. At Britney's concert it was simple arithmetic to conclude that the hit maker was not singing live. No worries. Fans seem to understand that the physicality of her dancing won't put her in a position to have enough air within to properly hit the right notes. The dances and the visuals were no doubt spectacular. It's what the fans were expecting; and it was provided with a bang. Such were enough reasons to let go of that matter.
Happy and gay: Britney's show gave a venue for everyone wanting to cross-dress, do a Paolo Ballesteros copy-face, and get selfies from fans because they somehow look like Britney.
Sold out, period. Whether a ticket holder got its access as a subscriber of major sponsor Smart or because she has well-off parents, or he simply has the money to afford it, naked eyes could clearly see that fans flocked the venue up to the rafters to see a major artist from the U.S. right before their very eyes.
Ed's Note: The "PEP Review" section carries the views of individual reviewers, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the PEP editorial staff.