Britney Aims to Shock in Tour Opener

03/04/2004 AT 02:45 PM EST

Britney Spears's "Onyx Hotel Tour 2004" kicked off in San Diego, Calif., Tuesday night, with the pop princess arriving onstage in a white terry cloth robe that quickly fell to the floor to reveal a see-through sequined body stocking, according to reviews of the performance -- which were mixed.

New York Times music critic Neil Strauss, echoing most critics' sentiments, opined that for a performer who says she's sick of always being in the headlines, Spears, 22, is certainly seeking to generate more with her first concert in two years.

After exposing herself in the body stocking -- on a stage set that is made to resemble a hotel built solely to please voyeurs -- male dancers wearing very little suggestively danced with one another (one gyrating on a bed). Meanwhile, the main attraction herself first pretended to soak in a see-through bathtub before joining one of the men to roll around on one of the mattresses.

The Times even goes so far as to suggest that Britney's outdone her mentor, Madonna. "Who knows? Maybe if you're really lucky, I might marry you," Spears told the crowd in between her 15 songs and seven costume changes.

The show, which took place at the San Diego Sports Arena, is due to play 25 more cities in North America, including a stop this Saturday at the scene of the crime: Las Vegas, where Spears was briefly married earlier this year. The star also is expected to take her show, which is sponsored by MTV, to Europe, Latin America and Asia later this year.

As for why the cable music channel is backing the tour, Joe Armenia, VP of music marketing and promotion for MTV, said in a statement: "There are not that many artists that appeal to every territory with an MTV channel, but Britney Spears is one of the select few. We love the association with Britney; she has always been a core part of this channel. And our fans love Britney."

As for what Spears has to say, as quoted by The Times from her Tuesday night show: "The last six months have been like a roller coaster, with a lot of ups and downs. But I think that's made me who I am. ... We all know how to laugh, how to cry, how to be held tight, and we all know heartbreak."

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