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Britney Spears' Sexy Circus: Pop Star Returns to the Stage in New Orleans

March 4, 2009 11:13 AM ET

Britney Spears put another notch in her comeback belt by powering through the nearly two-hour opening date of her Circus Starring Britney Spears tour last night (March 3rd) in New Orleans. The show, in her home state of Louisiana, marked the pop star's long-awaited return to the stage: she ditched her Onyx Hotel Tour (which supported 2003's In the Zone) in June 2004 after suffering a knee injury on the set of "Outrageous" video and only took the stage a handful of times since, most notably in 2007, when she performed a few poorly received nightclub gigs billed as the M+Ms.

(Check out photos of Spears decked out in sexy circus outfits at her opening-night gig here.)

As MTV News reports, surrounded by a giant Big Top spectacle and acrobats and backup dancers aplenty, Spears danced her way through the almost exclusively upbeat set list, which kicked off with a video greeting starring Perez Hilton. Each of the show's four acts (Circus, House of Fun - Anything Goes, Freakshow/Peepshow, Electo Circ) featured a plethora of outfit changes that ranged from revealing to very revealing — she donned a naughty policewoman's outfit for closers "Womanizer" and "Circus," a Madonna-esque swirl bra for "Radar" and an Indian-inspired look for her Bollywood remix of "Me Against the Music" (which unfortunately didn't feature a cameo by the Material Mom — though the tour has only just begun). Though some reports indicate Spears did some live singing, the L.A. Times' Ann Powers notes that the show was dominated by backing tracks.

Spears only let the tempo drop for ballad "Everytime," which she sang while sitting in the nook of a giant umbrella suspended from the ceiling. The emotional track from In the Zone was not on the set list Spears released two days ago, when she gave fans a sneak peek at Circus rehearsals. As promised, though, she only dipped into her early catalog for a remix of "... Baby One More Time," the breakout song from her 1999 debut. Perhaps Spears, who's made it through her share of troubling times the past few years, isn't so eager to look back at the past. The new Britney is content to play pretend in perhaps the ultimate kids' playground for a few hours — and give fans a bit of high-flying escapism to lose themselves in, too.

Related Stories:

Britney Spears' Life in Photos: A Timeline of Her Rise, Fall and Comeback
Britney Spears' Rolling Stone Covers
Cover Story: Britney Returns

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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