I'd rather be fingered by Edward Scissorhands than sit through Christina Aguilera's "Back To Basics" tour ever again. Last night's show at Sydney's Acer Arena was one of the most dismal concerts I have even seen. Cheap sets, poor sound quality, bad costumes and a pregnant diva in hotpants are just some of the reasons why "Back To Basics" is a 90 minute musical trainwreck.
Christina is not my favourite singer but I prefer her to most of the current batch of mainstream divas. If nothing else, Christina has a great voice and has developed into an interesting pop star. "Back To Basics" (the album) is an intriguing experiment and I respect her for having the guts to gamble on such a different sound - even if she doesn't quite pull it off. I was looking forward to see how Christina would blend her old material in with her new sound but found myself swiftly losing interest when she finally arrived on stage two hours late.
After such a long delay, the anticipation was palpable. However, instead of making an entrance, Christina doesn't even appear on stage for the first number. Instead a film clip - largely derivative of Madonna's "Express Yourself" - played on a large screen before the dirrty one waddled down a moving staircase wearing white hotpants and more make-up than an army of drag queens. I'm sure the outfit would have been rather flattering if Christina wasn't heavily up the duff with a very noticeable baby bump. Then there was her skin. I'm convinced Christina has raided Kelly Llorenna's lifetime supply of fake tan and used it all at once because I have never before seen a human being look so orange. Christina might have looked like trailer trash on Halloween but the opening song, a rousing rendition of "Ain't No Other Man" was fantastic. Unfortunately, everything went downhill from there.
"Ain't No Other Man" was followed by a series of dreary songs from "Back To Basics", which perhaps 10 percent of the crowd were familiar with. To make matters worse there were no sets or props - just 8 dancers on a massive, empty stage. Which became increasingly barren due to Christina's habit of disappearing after every song to spray on more bronzer and to change into new hotpants. Any sense of continuity was destroyed by her long absences and poor choice of material. When Christina did get around to singing one of her old songs, she ruined the moment by giving it a jazzy makeover. I had no idea she was even singing "Come On Over" until the final chorus.
One of evening's few bright moments occurred when Christina appeared on the back of carousel horse singing "Dirrty". It was the only time I saw people standing up until the final encore. Things continued to spiral downwards when Christina finally decided to talk to the audience - and gave a 5 minute lecture on domestic violence. For added effect, a black and white film clip of a woman being violently assaulted was played during Christina's "inspirational talk". Less than 15 minutes later, Xtina had a rest and played another clip - this time of her rolling around semi-naked, spreading her legs. I'm glad the thousands of 10 year old girls in the audience have such a quality role model! By this stage not even a surprisingly extravagant circus segment or a delicious interpretation of "Candyman" could save this sinking ship. The vast majority of the crowd had simply lost interest. Luckily, Christina had filmed some fan testimonials to play in the background. I almost lost lost my dinner when one desperate individual cooed that Christina "makes me feel alive each and every day". I mean, really!
The concert ended with great performances of "Beautiful" and "Fighter" but a competent encore does not make up for the dirge that went before it. The concert stumbled from one disaster to the next. Christina has as much charisma as a floating turd and the staging was less elaborate that Dannii's gay nightclub tour. I know that Christina has a fantastic voice but it was impossible to tell with the poor sound system and her shrill screaming. "Back To Basics" is a desperate new low for live entertainment.