The first leg of Britney Spears' "Circus" tour comes to a close May 5. What have we learned in the two months that Brit Brit has been on tour for the first time in five years?

[Five things we've learned... after the break!]

*She's capable of performing-not particularly well or with any inspiration, but she is able to stand upright and put on a show. Given how her life has careened from crazy to crazier to craziest and back again the last few years, there were serious doubts, mine included, that she could get through one concert, much less an entire tour. She not only put the sad, misbegotten MTV Video Awards' fiasco of 2007 behind her, she slammed that door shut. With only a few dates left, she has only postponed one date in Connecticut and that was for production issues, not her own.

*The fans don't care if she is singing live. Though never confirmed, review after review mentioned that Spears seems to be visibly lip-syncing to pre-recorded tracks and often quite badly. And yet, the public flocked to the shows all the same. I don't really know when "concert" quit meaning "live," but perhaps our standards have been so lowered that no one expects her to , God forbid, sing and dance at the same time. I'm not sure what the appeal is if she's not singing. It's kind of reverse karaoke: "We'll pay you NOT to sing, but you better wear scanty costumes and prance around like stripper." At the same time, I can't walk in high heels for five minutes, so I really do give her credit for being able to do it for an hour and a half each night.

*Spears still has a career above and beyond the "trainwreck" factor. Comeback is a word that's tossed around way too much these days, but between the success of "Circus," the album, and "Circus," the tour, she's a bonafide star again and not just a freak show. "Circus" has spawned at least two hits with the title track and "Womanizer" and a third, "If You Seek Amy" continues to rise. "Womanizer" has entered the cultural zeitgeist, inspiring a startling number of covers, some inspired, some just downright wacky, by artists ranging from Lily Allen to Fall Out Boy, All American Rejects and Franz Ferdinand. It's one of the biggest hits of her career.

*Her every move is still newsworthy. In a tour remarkably free of scandal, the internets and chat rooms still managed to dissect any little gaffe or salacious comment. On one date she made a crude comment about her lady parts when she thought her mic was off. On another, she let a curse word fly and, perhaps noteworthy, she walked off stage three songs into her Vancouver show, allegedly because of a smoking issue in the building, only to return 45 minutes later. In a world where very little seems stable, our national obsession with Spears is still secure.

*The show must go on. On Wednesday, eight additional European dates were announced for this summer, amending Spears' tour beyond her sold-out upcoming London run. Plus, more shows in Eastern Europe will be announced next week. Given that a judge has to approve her every move if it involves finances, we don't know if she'll be able to keep the "Circus" coming to town, but it seems to be a good fit for Spears and for the fans. Maybe the zaniness of the circus is the only place her life makes sense.

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