Pop singer Britney Spears performs at the Yas Arena on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi on Friday. Image Credit: Abdel Krim Kallouche/Gulf News

Dubai: Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton may have been the stars of the track but it was pop icon Britney Spears who really pulled the crowds at the first night of Abu Dhabi F1 arena shows.

The American star kicked off the three nights of Yasalam live performances on Yas island with a variation of her Femme Fatal Tour.

Supported by Australian act Nervo, this, her seventh tour has been touted as "the comeback one" despite being met with mixed reviews.

So here's my frustration. Having become obsessed with the ‘are-they, aren't they?' singing live debate, I found myself never really getting into the show.

The ballads, which were few, seemed to showcase the unique, almost baby-like voice we've all come to know and love, in all it's sugar-pop glory.
However, this was in stark contrast to the upbeat dance numbers including Toxic, which firstly, couldn't have been more badly remixed if a 12-year-old had tried in his basement, and were certainly not sung in person.

That said, the girl totally gets away with it. Britney is a world phenomenon, people are happy to simply be in her presence, live vocals or not. And why shouldn't they?

This chick's sold more than 100 million records worldwide, according to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), is the eighth top-selling female artist in the US, with 33 million certified albums.

She's recognised as the best-selling female artist of the first decade of the 21st century, and in June last year was ranked sixth on Forbes list of the 100 Most Powerful and Influential celebrities in the world.

The show is upbeat, fun, different and never allows a second of boredom, even if you don't really know the words. Let yourself so much as consider heading to the bar for a refill and you miss a pink Mini Cooper convertible drive onto the stage, a huge dragon boat complete with wings and oarsmen, a huge sky box with angle wings.

Spears opened with the electro-pop hit Hold it Against Me, the first single from her seventh studio album, Femme Fatale.

Every set change was better than the next. Even when my moralistic musician ethos was trying to convince me not to enjoy the song because it's a pre-recorded track, you can't help yourself.

At the end of the day "it's Britney", I kept telling myself. "She sang the song when it was recorded", I justified to myself.

She took to stage wearing a reflective, sleeveless outfit and went through several costume changes throughout the show. A pink, fluffy-topped basque-style leotard matched the pink Mini Cooper, which also boasted a dancing pole (the less said about this the better).

Having warmed up the crowd she shouted, "What's up Abu Dhabi. Check this out. This is how I roll," then launched into Big Fat Bass, a song written and produced by will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas for the Femme Fatale album.

If U Seek Amy, Womanizer both went down well but it was the grand finale of Till the World's End which most will take away as the defining moment of a successful gig.

Brit boarded a podium which ascended into the night's sky, giant angel wings appeared across a backdrop of falling white pyrotechics. Impressive doesn't start to explain. As a showgirl this chick has it down.

At one point she plucked almost a dozen people from the crowd to dance with her on stage.

Since the singer became a teenage superstar shortly after her debut single ‘Baby One More Time', which she did play, despite local newspapers reporting she missed it from her set list, Brit has always hit the headlines.

This year it's been for her skimpy outfits on tour. The less said about the outfits, probably the best. Let's just say they, as well as the many ‘grinding' antics on stage, they left little to the imagination.

People close to Spears said the star would "tone down" her stage costumes and risqué dance routines for the UAE. The jury's still out. But let's just say if this is toned down then I'd hate to be in the front row at a show in another country for fear of what I may see.

That said, the costumes were dazzling along with the extravagantly-choreographed routines (some of which she avoided perhaps due to the technicality).

So I'm not sure whether she can really sing, I wasn't that impressed with the overly-repeated and lackluster dance moves, but I'd go again next week even if I had to cancel a mini-break. I'm just happy I've seen an artist who made singing into a hairbrush in front of my mirror as a teenager totally worth it. Check.

Sunday night is The Beatles fans' night as the Yas concert stage belongs to British legend Sir Paul McCartney.