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Selena Gomez Channels Early Britney With Fan-Friendly Pop Confections: Concert Review

Selena Gomez Performing Staples Center - P 2013
Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

The Bottom Line

A kiddie rave in L.A.

Venue

Staples Center
Los Angeles
(Wednesday, Nov. 6)

Selena Gomez busted out her best crop tops for Wednesday night's Staples Center performance, baring her midriff -- but not quite her soul -- on stage in Los Angeles.

The 21-year-old seemed to channel shades of a young Britney Spears with her performance, delivering danceable hits, choreographed numbers accompanied by a bona fide dance troupe and glossy video interstitials. The production took the audience on a whimsical journey through four mysterious doors that marked each of the show's acts. And while Gomez is seeking more adult fare when it comes to her film career, Selena Gomez -- the singer -- is still keeping things strictly PG.

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But where Spears has been widely criticized, Gomez (mostly) delivered. The former Disney darling put her voice to good use and, save for a few questionable moments, sang live. Gomez may not have the pipes of Demi Lovato, but she certainly held her own over the blaring beats that accompanied her.

Following opening acts Christina Grimmie and Emblem3, Gomez hit the stage right on time (8:30 p.m.) much to the relief of parents who brought their young kids and tweens -- many experiencing their first concert ever -- out on a school night. The signer raced through her set list at a rapid fire pace, delivering fan favorites like "Stars Dance," "Who Says," "Love You Like a Love Song" and a cover of Katy Perry's "Roar" at breakneck speed and finishing her 18-song set before 10 p.m. With little time to stop and make small talk with the audience, Gomez kept her remarks brief and, frankly, canned. "It's so great to be home!" she declared early on, acknowledging the L.A. crowd. But her transition into "Birthday" could have used a script rewrite.

"I don't know how many of you are celebrating a birthday tonight," she demurred, receiving deafening cheers from the audience. "But I just celebrated my 21st birthday, and it was really fun."

Any Gomez fan worth his or her salt knows that the singer turned 21 back in July.

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In another move that felt oh-so-early Britney, Gomez transitioned from her own party stomper "Birthday" to Rihanna's "Cake." The similarly themed, double entendre-filled tune ("It's not even my birthday, but he wanna lick the icing off," she crooned) raised a few adult eyebrows, while the majority of the young audience remained blissfully unaware of its significance. For what it's worth, Gomez did opt to edit out the word "Bitch" from her rendition.

But Gomez's show wasn't for the parents -- it was for her fans. And on that front she delivered perfect pop confection to the largely 16-and-under crowd. Adults entering the arena, meanwhile, stepped into a full-on kiddie rave, complete with glow sticks, flashing lights and ear-shattering bass -- a befuddling, if not genius, concept.

For those who made it through to the end of her set (some youngsters were escorted out early on their parents' shoulders, while others struggled to keep their eyes open in their seats), they were treated to a brief two-song encore of Gomez's latest hits: "Come & Get It" and "Slow Down" -- neither sentiment applicable to much of the crowd at that moment, but a fine send-off nonetheless.  

Set List:

Bang Bang Bang
Roud & Roud
Like a Champion
B.E.A.T.
Stars Dance
Write Your Name
Birthday/Cake
Roar (Katy Perry Cover)
Love You Like a Love Song
Love Will Remember
Dream (Priscilla Ahn Cover)
Who Says
Whiplash
Naturally
Save the Day
Undercover

Encore:

Come & Get It
Slow Down

Twitter: @SophieSchillaci

Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP