As the countdown trails to zero and the lights plummet into total darkness, the screen above the stage fills with the image of Spears–the Femme Fatale. Brandishing a gun, she feverishly bolts past security cameras; her signature blonde locks bobbing up and down as she scales barbed-wire fences and shoots at her pursuers as only a true Badassney could.

She is escaping–running away from a S.W.A.T. team, while deliciously dolled up in a full glitz outfit. (Don’t all super sexy assassins incorporate a little glitter into their wardrobe?)

Ultimately she’s caught at some point and wrestled to the ground, kicking and screaming all the way down. But as she’s unwillingly slammed over the hood of a police car, she glares mischievously into the windshield at us and purrs seductively: “I’m not that innocent.”

Just at that moment, the screens above the stage immediately begin to split in half and smoke pours from within as the Holy Spearit herself comes rolling in on a giant metal “Hold It Against Me” platform. Glittering, though still to dark to see her, she stands locked and loaded–awaiting the moment as the driving beat starts to pulsate through the arena. And then, although no one could possibly hear it above all the shrieking, she fires: “Hey, over there…”

Last night, Britney Spears brought The Femme Fatale Tour to Boston’s TD Banknorth Garden. And finally–after two agonizing years of waiting–it was time to see my idol (again). But first: The opening acts.

Kicking off the night, Jersey Shore‘s DJ Pauly D took to the ones and twos with his signature glossy, gluestick-y up-do to bust out some club jams. While the general public has basically scoffed off the idea of Pauly D DJ’ing anything (except for the old skank next to me who slurred “Oh, I’d fack him in uh sssecond!”), the offerings were inoffensively enjoyable (if not obvious for the night’s crowd), including remixes of David Guetta, Katy Perry and Rihanna. Five minutes into his set and my entire crew was fist pumping, beating the beat and pounding the floor. By the time Pauly exited the stage that evening, I felt ever-so-slightly more tan (and also oddly craving pickles.) Success!

Next up was the Harajuku Barbie: Mizz Nicki Minaj. Now, Ms. Maraj and I have had a bit of a falling out as of late because of her lackluster debut, Pink Friday. (I’m sorry–I still don’t care for it.) That being said, I was one of her biggest supporters when her mixtapes first started rolling out (I still get bodied to “I Get Crazy” and “Itty Bitty Piggy” on the daily!), so I really hoped the rapstress would shine tonight–and she most certainly DID.

From the absolute massacre that is her almighty verse on “Monster” to her current Billboard smash “Superbass,” Minaj transformed the Femme Fatale stage into a fun, feisty Good vs. Evil battle between Minaj and her arch-nemesis: The cleverly named Nemesis (who–unless I’m mistaken, is actually just Jigsaw from Saw.)

Cue flashlight gun battles, some sweet karate kicks and even a quick round of Musical Chairs, and you’ve got one fast-paced, mile-a-minute explosion of hard-hitting rap verses (“Bottoms Up”), sweetly sung pop hits (“Save Me”) and arena-thumping club jams (“Where Them Girls At?”). I’m proud of you, Nicki–you seriously turned it out!

At long last, after a 40-minute countdown, the main attraction was here: The Holy Spearit had arrived.

Like the albums they represent, if the Circus Tour was a safe return to form, the Femme Fatale Tour is the riskier, edgier next step into the future for Britney.

Backed by technicolor boomboxes (“Big Fat Bass”), massive viking-like vessels (“Gimme More”) and a giant, hulking metallic structure (“Till The World Ends”), Godney worked through about 20 of her best and brightest pop tunes–a relentlessly hard-hitting set of souped-up signature songs, as well as her newest offerings–in her own strange, twisted post-apocalyptic world.

While some of the more beloved Britney concert classics such as “Breathe On Me” and “Everytime” have gone missing on this go-around, exciting newer additions–including “Up ‘N’ Down” and “Trouble For Me”–have now taken their place. (However, two numbers that appeared earlier in the tour–Femme Fatale bonus track “He About To Lose Me” and the cover of Madonna‘s “Burning Up”–were nixed and sorely missed this evening.)

From the very first sequence, the frenzied storyline of the Femme Fatale Tour is absolutely to die for; the embodiment of what the Femme Fatale era symbolizes. Unlike the whimsical storytelling plot of Dream Within A Dream or even the somewhat scatterbrained Onyx Hotel mixture of sex and silly antics, the Femme Fatale Tour takes Britney’s fans to the darkest stretches of Spears’ imagination yet. (Think of Circus Tour‘s wicked “Sweet Dreams” interlude as the appetizer to the night’s full entree.)

Throughout the night, we watch as the living legend stealthily fights her way across the world while being hunted down by a menacing stalker. He’s holed up in a creepy basement; the walls lined with news clippings and photographs of the pop icon, yet another addition to Britney’s seemingly endless supply of blurred reality/fantasy imagery.

Though hard to hear above all the earth-shattering screams, the interludes were major pulse-quickening moments that kept the action up in between each outfit change. While I wouldn’t want to give the whole plot away, the greatest moment of all comes just shy of the kimono-and-parasol-peppered, Japanese-flavored “Toxic” performance, as the venomous vixen pays an unexpected visit to her stalker’s chateau and gives him a taste of his own medicine. “You’ve been a bad boy.” Deliciously sinister! More chills…

But between all the murderous intent, the Femme Fatale Tour is chock full of good ol’ frivolous fun: “How I Roll,” one of the night’s most gleeful moments, sees Lady B pop, lock and twerking across the stage onto her hot pink B-GIRL mobile, before leading into “Lace & Leather,” as the sensual seductress took a moment to show off her derriere (usually found in the magazines) while wrapping a hot pink boa (and her legs!) ’round an incredibly lucky gent’s neck for an all-too-brief striptease. (It was a friend of mine, no less–Pete of Dean-Kelly!)

Later on came “If U Seek Amy,” which found Brit Brit channeling her ever-pesky tabloid drama on stage, snapping and posing in a signature Marilyn Seven Year Itch white gown while as hungry, hungry paps eagerly try to snap pictures at her side. OUTTA MY WAY, PAPARAZO!

But apart from the tour’s opening (and closing) moment, “Gimme More” is quite possibly the tour’s most epic moment of all: Although she’s now gone on to perform the song over twenty times on tour since the dreaded 2007 VMA’s, each night’s performance looks and feels like the Queen’s grand rebirth. The song’s production–now given an Egyptian/Middle Eastern flair with a lush “Get Naked” instrumental sheen–is so monumental that it might as well have served as the concert’s opening.

As pyramids filled the screens and two soldiers brandishing giant golden “B”-shaped rods rose from the smoky floor, an almighty chant of “More!” filled the stadium before the immortal words were spoken: “It’s Britney, bitch.” CHILLS.

Other genius (and somewhat underrated) moments of the show included Brit’s biker chick rendition of her 1998 hit “…Baby One More Time,” which led the enchanting mistress to take a cue from her “I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll” video and getting rowdy on a couple of motorcycles (Vroom, vroom!), as well as the following segue into her springtime smash remix with Rihanna (“S&M”) and Femme Fatale‘s “Trouble For Me.”

“Boys,” which has hardly snagged a mention in the reviews I’ve seen–is actually a hugely sexy moment on this tour. Dressed in a slinky gold robe, Britney played the snake-charming temptress, working her way across the stage to an impossibly fuck-me-silly mix of the song before leading one of her fit musclemen dancers directly into her–err, pit of vipers. (Right, Simon Curtis?)

And of course, there’s “Womanizer”–or more importantly, THAT FALL. After a long stretch of choreography, Brit Brit takes a cue from Miss RuPaul‘s Drag Race and takes a suicide dive into a luscious free-fall back bend on a rotating platform in the center of the catwalk. It’s one of the tour’s best (and most camera-worthy) moments! O-p-u-l-e-n-c-e.

In the end, everyone seems to want to ask the same thing: Is she back? In short: Yes, I think so. She look engaged. She looks focused. She also looks genuinely happy to be there. Was it 100% live? Honestly, I doubt it. The vocals were definitely new in places, but not really. I really couldn’t be care less about the whole lip-synch debate before, and I certainly don’t care now: She delivered an incredible show.

The dancing–though it’ll never return to the level that it once was from her ’99-’04 reign–was given some much-needed umph for this tour (the nearly faithful delivery of the original “I’m Slave 4 U” choreography is nothing short of a small miracle), and her crowd engagement has definitely improved tenfold. There’s plenty of waving and pointing out into the crowd this time around…she even calls out to the audience several times!

Everyone was having an incredible time–Britney herself included, and the entire night was just unabashedly FUN: Seeing the entire stadium jumping in unison to “I Wanna Go,” hearing the howling chants of “Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh!” from “Till The World Ends” ricochet throughout the arena…there are simply no words. (Err…plenty actually, judging by this review.)

The Femme Fatale Tour is the perfect representation of why I love Britney Spears, why she’ll forever be my #1 and why there’s a “Daily B” section devoted exclusively to the icon on MuuMuse. The reasons were all there on that stage: Every strut, every smoldering stare and–of course–every hair flip. (OW!) She is quite simply my everything–my joy, my inspiration and my main muse, and her latest tour only bolsters my staunch belief in her as The Ultimate Pop Star.

“The bitch is back and better than ever,” she told V Magazine in March. After seeing the show last night, who could possibly disagree with that?


Me, Godney and my BritFFLs!

I LOVE YOU, BRITNEY. (And apparently, she loves me too!)

2011: YEAR OF THE SPEARS.

All photos courtesy of faithful Muuser and BritFFL, Lance H!