For performance artists, the stage is what sets the soul on fire. And for singers, especially, the stage is where legends are born and amateurs are put to shame. Without doubt, a poor live performance can quickly bring a singer’s career down in flames. Fortunately, for Christina Aguilera, she has the stage presence and vocal chops to make her fans and even the casual concertgoer feel that they, at the very least, will get their money’s worth. Few contemporary artists can make that claim.
Christina Aguilera’s Back to Basics: Live and Down Under is more than a simple presentation of song and dance; the show, by all measures, is a Broadway-caliber production. Taking the helm as the show’s creative director, Aguilera showcases the depth and breadth of her visual artistry, with a two-hour extravaganza that comes fully equipped with three major scenes buttressed by a state-of-the-art hydraulic system. Aguilera’s versatile catalog of music allows for seamless transitions between each, as the show’s fanciful costumes and monochrome video montages transport the viewer back to an era when simplicity and exuberance co-existed together amongst dazzling lights and even brighter colors.
For two hours, we are welcomed to Aguilera’s circus. At one point, her dancers even take on the roles of a fire juggler, members of a flying trapeze team and a clown on stilts—an artistic touch that adds more fireworks to her spectacular spectacle. The circus that is Live and Down Under could truly lay claim to be “the Greatest Show on Earth,” especially when compared against the shows of her contemporaries.
Sporting a sharp white suit, Christina Aguilera starts her program with Back to Basics’ smash hit, “Ain’t No Other Man.” Passionately hitting—and holding—the song’s very first note, Aguilera implicitly demands command of the stage. With eight background dancers and big-band horn section in tow, her request is promptly granted. Now, the circus can begin.
Crisscrossing between hits from her first two albums, Aguilera seamlessly plugs in material from her Back to Basics sessions. Song after song, Aguilera delivers the goods, with magnificent support from her tireless dancers, wonderful background singers and band of skilled musicians. Highlights include a soul-stirring performance of “Makes Me Wanna Pray,” a reggae-influenced spin on “What a Girl Wants” and a bubbly burlesque cabaret prepared for “Lady Marmalade.” Live performance should always be this good.
Live and Down Under closes with Aguilera’s signature hit, “Beautiful,” followed by a rousing performance of “Fighter.” Once the musical circus ends and the stage lights finally dim, one thing is for certain: Aguilera’s exuberant showcase is a masterpiece that is quite far from being “basic.”
Available exclusively at Best Buy stores and BestBuy.com, the Back to Basics: Live and Down Under DVD package contains two discs with audio options for Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo and 5.1 Surround. Disc One features the live concert and Disc Two offers behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the dancers and musicians, along with Simone Harouche (wardrobe), Stephen Sollitto (hair and makeup), Rob Lewis (musical director), Jordan Bratman and Christina Aguilera.