Spears plays brief show at San Diego club

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Britney Spears strutted her way back to center stage with a short, sexy set at the House of Blues in San Diego Wednesday night believed to be her first public concert appearance in nearly three years.

The 25-year-old mother of two went onstage wearing nothing more than knee-high go-go boots with a short white skirt and a sparkly pink bra top that showed off her belly button ring - and no evidence of the weight gain that landed her on celebrity tabloid covers last year. A long brown wig completed the outfit, covering the head she shaved in February.

She launched a short set with her hit "Baby One More Time," using a cafe chair as a burlesque prop while she pranced around the small club stage backed up by four dancers.

Spears sped through the songs -- all standards from her earlier albums -- wrapping up after less than 15 minutes. She gave a shy goodbye before an old Madonna song came on over the sound system. "Thanks everyone for coming," she told the packed club.

The comeback didn't hit a high note for everyone, some of whom paid upward of $125 a ticket. "It looked like she lip-synched her way through the whole thing," said a disappointed Morgan Segall, 20, who flew in from San Francisco for the night.

The performance, under heavy club security, was shrouded in mystery. The club marquee advertised a show by "The M&Ms," and it wasn't until an hour after the doors opened that a disc jockey mentioned Spears' name, prompting shrieks from girls jammed in front of the stage.

Rumors of a Spears show had spread on the Internet and via local radio stations late last week, prompting a run on tickets by diehard fans.

Spears' last concert tour ended in summer 2004. Earlier this year, she told fans she hoped for career comeback. "I look forward to coming back this year bigger and better than ever," Spears wrote on her Web site in January, also noting she'd "been far from perfect."

"The M&Ms" had two other concerts scheduled at House of Blues venues in Southern California -- one in Anaheim tonight and the other tomorrow in West Hollywood -- according to the club's Web site.
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