Troubled pop princess Britney Spears has given her first concert for nearly three years, just over a month after coming out of rehab and reaching a divorce settlement.
The teen idol put on a 20-minute show in front of a few hundred revellers at San Diego's House of Blues nightclub, lip-syncing her way through a handful of her most popular hits, local media reports said.
The impromptu concert came after a tumultuous several months that saw Spears give birth to her second child, file for divorce, and bizarrely shave her head before checking into a rehab clinic. Tuesday's show was billed as a concert by an unknown band called the M&Ms but word that Spears was to perform had spread like wildfire on the Internet in the days leading up to the event.
However Spears's comeback performance received mixed reviews from those among the audience who had reportedly shelled out up to $500 on the black market for $35 tickets to the show.
"It wasn't a good move for her career," ticket-holder Mackenzie Trimble told the
San Diego Tribune
"When you come out and do four songs and lip-sync ... that's not what Britney fans came to see." But one female fan was impressed. "I think she worked the stage, her body looked great. So it was good to see her finally come back and prove us all wrong," she told Los Angeles television station KNBC.
Spears shot to superstardom in late 1998, with her smash-hit debut album "Baby One More Time," which she followed with another chart-topping success the following year, "Oops! ... I Did It Again."
magazine, Spears has sold over 76 million records worldwide and her 31 million albums sold in the US make her the eighth best-selling female artist in American music history. Yet while Los Angeles-based Spears is idolised by many teenage fans, her personal life has become a favourite topic for debate in an insatiable entertainment media.
A much-publicised relationship and break-up with singer Justin Timberlake made her a prime tabloid target, not least because she cultivated an image of wholesome purity that was at odds with her raunchy lyrics and dance routines.