Of the many exciting tours kicking off this summer—and we know you've already purchased tickets for your local NKOTBSB stop, haven't you?—there's probably none more anticipated, for more reasons than one, than Britney Spears' Femme Fatale tour. Though Britney is still one of the biggest names in pop music, and a live attraction to rival artists like Katy Perry and Lady Gaga, she's taken her fair share of hits recently—including from us—for her lackadaisical, soulless performances, suggesting that her best days as a live performer are well behind her. Will the Britney of the Femme Fatale tour be the re-energized, top-form Britney we haven't seen in far too long? Or will it be the same out-of-shape, perpetually tired-looking Britney of recent months?

Well, we can't tell you that about the Femme Fatale tour just yet, but here's what we can tell you—everything else. From the set to the setlist to the opening acts and the preliminary reports, we present you the complete user's guide to the Femme Fatale tour experience. And if you find yourself in Sacramento tonight with nothing much to do—go check it out, why don'tcha?

 

THE LOOK

During previews for the concert, it was revealed that Britney's Femme Fatale show is based around a mysterious sort of action-adventure theme, beginning with a video of Britney being chased by police ("The game of cat and mouse") and with the set changing throughout the show to reflect Britney's many different identities. There are also costume changes to match—nine in all, supposedly—including an over-sized angel outfit, a kimono, and a leather motorcycle-gear getup, specifically for her "S&M" performances. "I think the show is more me than anything I've ever done," says Britney. So at heart, Britney is really a globe-tripping schizophrenic. Good to know.

As for Britney herself, from the couple interviews she's done in the weeks leading up to the tour kickoff, she looks much better than she did in her GMA performances or Jimmy Kimmel appearances a few months back—thinner, livelier, almost unrecognizable in how recognizable she looks as the pre-crisis Britney of six or seven years ago. "I've been training for a while, and before I come to rehearsals, I've been working out," says Britney by way of explanation. "I eat really clean."

For more info on Britney's Femme Fatale Tour, including the opening acts and the setlist, click NEXT.

 

THE OPENERS

The all-female lineup is kicked off by the So-Cal electro-pop group Jessie and the Toy Boys, Jessie being lead singer and songwriter Jessie Malakouti, and the Toy Boys being the remaining four band members, who play dressed as department store mannequins. The heavily '80s-indebted group (Jessie cites such untraditional and diverse influences as no-wave rocker Lydia Lunch and new wave Missing Persons frontwoman Del Bozzio—as well as, of course, Madonna) recently made waves with their stellar, Yellawolf-featuring single "Push It," whose video might give you a little taste of what to expect from Jessie & Co. in concert.

Next up is Australian duo Nervo, eponymous to sisters Olivia "Liv" and Miriam "Mim" Nervo, The two started out as songwriters, claiming dancefloor hits like David Guetta & Kelly Rowland's "When Love Takes Over" and Ke$ha's "Fuck Him He's a DJ" to their credit, but have since decided to strike out on their own. "It'll be a DJ set and very electronic and house-based," anticipates Liv of the duo's Femme Fatale gigs. "We're really excited to be able to warm everyone up with some sexy house music."

As for Nicki Minaj—you probably know her already. ”I want to go all out and make it over the top and theatrical,” Nikki said to Entertainment Weekly recently about plans for her Femme Fatale performances. “There will be costume changes and hair changes. Lots of sexy outfits and dancing. I don’t know how to do things normal and boring." Sounds about right. And in case you forgot, she's the person in this music video, among others:

 

THE SETLIST

The set list for the Femme Fatale tour was unveiled a couple days ago, and goes pretty much as expected. The only real interesting items of note are the performance of Rihanna's "S&M" (whose remix, of course, Britney contributed a verse to), the cover of Madonna's 1982 classic "Burning Up" (the studio version of which recently leaked to the internet) and the appearance of largely forgotten Oops! I Did It Again ballad "Don't Let Me Be the Last to Know" (an especially odd inclusion considering that the album's much more successful title track didn't make the cut). "I’d say Britney sings maybe 40 percent of the show," said Perez Hilton in a recent video blog. "Which is really awesome considering the fact that at the last tour she lip-synched every single song, even the ballads." Did you hear that, guys? 40 percent!

Here's the full list of Brit's planned 22-song set:

1. 'Hold It Against Me'

2. 'Up N' Down'

3. '3'

4. 'Piece of Me'

5. 'Big Fat Bass'

6. 'How I Roll'

7. 'Lace and Leather'

8. 'If U Seek Amy'

9. 'Gimme More'

10. '(Drop Dead) Beautiful (feat. Sabi)'

11. 'He About To Lose Me'

12. 'Boys (Remix)'

13. 'Don't Let Me Be The Last To Know'

14. 'Baby One More Time'

15. 'S&M'

16. 'Trouble For Me'

17. 'I'm A Slave 4 U'

18. 'Burning Up (Madonna cover)'

19. 'I Wanna Go'

20. 'Womanizer'

21. 'Toxic'

22. 'Till The World Ends'

For lots more on Britney's Femme Fatale tour, including the tour dates and what's at stake for Brit, click NEXT.

 

THE DATES:

Femme Fatale takes Britney across the country, from Sacramento tonight to Hartford on August 9th (and even a couple dates in Canada after). Here's the full list of North American stops:

June 17 – Sacramento, CA @ Power Balance Pavilion

June 18 – San Jose, CA @ HP Pavilion

June 20 – Los Angeles, CA @ Staples Center

June 24 – Anaheim, CA @ Honda Center

June 25 – Las Vegas, NV @ MGM Grand

June 28 – Portland, OR @ Rose Garden Arena

June 29 – Tacoma, WA @ Tacoma Dome

July 1 – Vancouver, BC @ Rogers Arena

July 4 – Winnipeg, MB @ MTS Centre

July 6 – St. Paul, MN @ Xcel Center

July 8 – Chicago, IL @ United Center

July 12 – Dallas, TX @ American Airlines Center

July 13 – Houston, TX @ Toyota Center

July 15 – New Orleans, LA @ New Orleans Arena

July 17 – Atlanta, GA @ Philips Arena

July 20 – Orlando, FL @ Amway Center

July 22 – Miami, FL @ American Airlines Arena

July 26 – Cleveland, OH @ Quicken Loans Arena

July 28 — Detroit, MI @ Palace of Auburn Hills

July 30 – Philadelphia, PA @ Wells Fargo Center

July 31 – Washington, DC @ Verizon Center

August 2 – Uniondale, NJ @ Nassau Coliseum

August 5 – East Rutherford, NJ @ Izod Center

August 8 – Boston, MA @ TD Garden

August 11 – Montreal, QC @ Bell Centre

August 13 – Toronto, ON @ Air Canada Centre

THE STAKES:

Throughout her career, live performances have always been a huge part of Britney's appeal. We all remember where we were for her VMA performances of "Satisfaction/Oops I Did It Again" (the first of many nude suits) or when she danced with a live snake during "I'm A Slave 4 U," or, of course, the Madonna kiss. With five headlining tours under her belt, showmanship is something that's been heavily built into the Britney machine, and fans both crave and expect to see a fully-shaped spectacle ("Lip syncing? Who cares? Did you see that dancing? Ooh! Fireworks!"). After the breakdown of her Onyx Hotel Tour in 2004 (a knee injury caused Britney to bow out of 35 remaining U.S. dates, bringing teenagers everywhere to tears), 2009's "The Circus Starring Britney Spears" grossed $131.8 million worldwide, even after a five year absence from the road.

We've chronicled the decline of her dancing, while also noting the greatness that is Femme Fatale. (Really, we love it.) Despite what you may have read or seen, a strong Britney tour will quell the naysayers, and promptly win back her place among pop's leading female stars. This summer her tour will be up against the likes of younger starlets Katy Perry (who isn't known for her dancing, or vocals, during live shows, as much as she is for colorful costuming and whipped cream bras) and Rihanna (who has been banking on cameos from Drake and raunchy fan lapdances to get the blogopshere moving), both of whom she's capable of outdoing just with her music. A good tour could help further her already strong album sales, increase public opinion and get those "fucked up" bloggers off her back. A bad one? Well, it could lead to viral videos of her stinky performances, cause the legal system to think she isn't capable of handling herself and spark criticism from lowly music writers. Oh wait...

If anything, as long as she makes it through each night without lying down, and finishes out all her scheduled dates, Britney's already won, without even having to make out with Nicki Minaj. Although we wouldn't rule that out completely.

Will you be attending one of the Femme Fatale tour stops? What are you looking forward to (or dreading) seeing from Britney? How reasonable should we be keeping our expectations? Let us know all about it in the comments section.