By Addison Ford & Jill Muir
If Madonna is the queen of reinvention, Christina Aguilera is surely the princess. In her relatively short career, she has gone from a Britney-battling, teen pop queen, to a Dirrty girl in leather chaps, to a sophisticated, welldressed diva.
Performing songs from her most recent album, 2006â€™s â€œBack to Basics,â€ plus a few numbers from past albums, Christina took concert goers on a nostalgic, entertaining, sexy trip at the Kansas City stop of her Back to Basics tour on Feb. 24 at Kemper Arena.
The first stop was the 1940s, where she opened the show with a blazing rendition of â€œAinâ€™t No Other Man,â€ the first single off â€œBack to Basics,â€ wearing a slim-cut white pantsuit and fedora, designed by Roberto Cavalli, who is responsible for the many costumes Aguilera utilized throughout the night. Earlier in the tour, Aguileraâ€™s wardrobe came under scrutiny by the animal rights activism group, PETA, for the use of fur. Aguilera claimed to be unaware that real fur was used and immediately discontinued its use on her tour.
In keeping with the 1940s theme, Aguilera performed big-band era renditions of past hits, such as â€œWhat a Girl Wantsâ€ and â€œCanâ€™t Hold Us Down.â€ In keeping with the retro look and feel of her most recent album, Aguilera paid homage to blues and jazz greats, such as Billie Holliday and Duke Ellington during her performance of â€œBack in the Dayâ€ with prerecorded vignettes, which appeared on a screen behind her.
Halfway through her set, Aguilera transformed herself from a juke joint-era songbird to the ringleader in a circus of sequins and feathers. The circus stage set was complete with trapeze artists high above the stage on swings, flame-throwers and performers on stilts. Aguilera changed roles yet again, almost as fast as sheâ€™d assumed them, emerging as a sex-kitten dominatrix, clad in black sequins, donning a whip. It was then that she and several female dancers pulled one lucky male fan from the audience and strapped him to a â€œtorture wheelâ€ as they proceeded playfully dancing around and prodding him with whips, while Aguilera serenaded him, ending the number in a blaze of pyrotechnics.
During the fan favorite, â€œDirrty,â€ Aguilera rode atop a crimson-and-gold carousel horse while male and female dancers alike writhed on poles, reminding fans of her bad-girl past. In another throwback to her wilder years, Aguilera poked fun at the media attention her so-called â€œclean upâ€ attracted, with faux newspaper headlines flashed on a screen behind her during her performance of â€œStill Dirrty.â€
Aguilera pulled out yet another fan favorite, with her solo rendition of â€œLady Marmalade,â€ proving that she doesnâ€™t need Lil Kim, Pink, Mya or Missy Elliott to carry her, as Aguilera made concert goers forget the original was not a solo performance. During this number, Aguilera transformed herself and the stage, yet again, taking concert goers to a New Orleans bordello, complete with Aguilera ascending from underneath the stage on a boldly colored fainting sofa, adorned with pillows as dancers fanned her with large pink feathers.
Although Aguilera was busy setting the scene for her audience, they were not left bored, waiting for what would come next. Aguilera employed a staff of musicians and dancers who kept concert goers entertained with instrumental numbers and elaborate dance productions between songs. Although she was busy performing and changing in and out of costumes, this isnâ€™t the only way Aguilera kept her fans in mind. Throughout the show, Aguilera thanked fans for their ongoing support, proving to be more gracious host than demanding diva.
Another highlight of Aguileraâ€™s performance was a high-energy rendition of her most recent single, â€œCandyman,â€ a swinging, sexy, Jitterbugging take on the classic, â€œBoogie Woogie Bugle Boy.â€ During Aguileraâ€™s dynamic performance, she and her dancers donned retro nautical-themed costumes as swing dancers jumped and danced on tabletops set up around the stage.
As with any of Christinaâ€™s performances, the highlight of the evening was the empowering anthem, â€œBeautiful,â€ and this show was no exception. It was clear from the first notes why Aguilera chose to save this dynamic number for the encore. Christina emerged before fans one last time, not in an over-the-top designer costume but dressed down in a red, oversized tuxedo shirt and untied bowtie. The over-thetop, no-holds-barred final piece of the evening was â€œFighter.â€ Those in the audience not singing along and dancing to this number must have been dead, because it was definitely one of the stronger performances of the already amazing show.
Christinaâ€™s openers for the evening included the P. Diddy manufactured Danity Kane, from the MTV television show, â€œMaking the Band.â€ The performance left some to be desired but little to the imagination, and it was obvious they hadnâ€™t had the experience of the other two performers or the vocal talent. Concert goers seemed confused as to what exactly the girls were trying to accomplish, until the groupâ€™s final number, a puzzling rendition of their one and only single, â€œShowstopper.â€
Immediately before the headline act, the entertaining Pussycat Dolls came out and rocked Kemper, reminding audience members of their burlesque roots with sultry and tantalizing
dance numbers, backed by surprisingly impressive vocals. The Pussycat Dolls, featuring Kansas Cityâ€™s own Kimberly Wyatt, were a great compliment to Aguileraâ€™s performance. If the Pussycat Dolls were great, Christina was magnificent.
With this album and tour, Aguilera proved that she can move with the times, which instantly brings to mind another female pop-star chameleon: the inimitable Madonna.
Aguilera put on a great show and proved that a concert in 2007 is so much more than a mere concert. It was a spectacle to behold and a pleasure to watch and be a part of.
The show had everythingâ€”dancers, insane colors, and a giant, pulsating screen behind the stageâ€”all of which made for not just a pop show, but a full-on production, and a wonderfully entertaining evening.