Just over a year after shimmying into town with her last tour, Rihanna was back last night, this time rolling in with her 'Loud Tour'.
It didn't start too well when the Echo Arena done what they do best and messed up in emphatic style. You can picture the demographic of a Rihanna audience, 90% girls, with about 80% in short dresses with no coats and very high heels, myself included (minus the heels I'm not that stupid). So you can also hear the simultaneous screams when thousands of these girls are still stood outside the arena, which happens to be on the waterfront, 40 minutes after the doors were meant to open and it starts pouring down with rain to add to the howling winds we were all being battered with. Spirits were for the moment, 'dampened' shall we say, and everyone knew they would be waking up with a cold of some sort or another.
We eventually got in, an hour after the tickets stated we would, and temperatures would soon rise. As if he was Mr. Weather man's arch enemy, Calvin Harris kicked off his set as sole support act and instantly heated things up. I wasn't a fan when I heard Calvin was the support act, I thought it was a lazy choice but other than Shontelle as Jason Derulo's, I've never seen a support act get the crowd as 'warmed up' as Mr. Harris did. One of the biggest surprises of the night however, was when he, on the apparent orders of Ri Ri herself, spun their new single 'We Found Love', to a unresponsive crowd.
The bass, the base, the mother friggin base. It deserves a whole review for itself. The intro kicks in, the bass rattles even the largest of persons ribs and the mood is set (huh huh). The spaceships lowered, tilted, parted, a crystal ball appeared and a Bajan super star stomped out to deliver a jaw dropping set. Starting with 'Only Girl (In the world)', the crowd went crazy. It was like watching what one could imagine the red sea to be, with all the red headed mini-Ri's bopping away (Someone should have told them it's back to brown for Rihanna's curls). Here's where Rihanna's tech crew owe the crowd some commission, it was like a gigantic and superly amazing karaoke session, the music was so loud (fair enough it's the name) and bass so turned up that you couldn't hear a word Rihanna herself was singing. This was the trend as she continued into 'Disturbia' and a couple others that I couldn't name because along with the rest of the crowd, I was bewildered as to what was going on, with some bad sound distorting any lyrics or hope of catching what the song was, I can only hope it was a cover and that Rihanna was too hungover for a sound check because how nobody picked up on the problems, with it reportedly being the same in London's o2 arena the night before, surpasses me.
Ri Ri has been working flat out since we last seen her take to the stage here one year ago, and this was unfortunately evident in the stage production. The stage set seemed to be very re-cycled from the previous 'Last Girl On Earth Tour', with her performing exactly the same routine to 'Shut Up And Drive'. Beating up a car whilst throwing endless amounts of energy into delivering an outstanding but repeated performance. Again, her magnificent and brilliant pink tank, (which I want), made an appearance, as it did last year, for 'Hard'. This we can let her off with though because it proved to be a highlight of the night, smoke blazing, and crowd upping their G game, it was an incredible moment. More so than 'Man Down' which I was expecting to be much better, but was a favourite moment nevertheless because I love that song too much for it to have been anything else.
Next up was the much talked about x rated section of the show, which was all a bit too awkward with a couple of kids standing next to us. Rocking a tux quite amazingly, Rihanna strutted out a cover of Prince's 'Darling Nikki'. Costume changes, pole dances, lap dances and handcuffs were to follow, holding nothing back for her huge yet controversial hit 'S&M', with Ri Ri getting herself so excited she got the words a bit muddled up, forgiveable.
Toning down the tempo, the best and most beautiful moments were to come. Rihanna give us the opportunity to throw the /_\, an opportunity I will never pass, as she kicked off 'Run This Town' with a kick ass drum solo. The crowd were truely engaged as she ran into 'Live Your Life' and the full capacity all joined in, hands up. The participation stuck and lead to some of the more special, memorable moments of the night, 'Hate How Much I Love You' being one of them. 'Take A Bow' proved to be the most special, Rihanna getting a bit emotional as she sat on the front of the stage whilst we all done her job for her and sung back every word, simply beautiful. The same went for 'California King Bed' where Ri Ri looked stunning in a floating yellow dress, whilst her and everyone else sung their hearts out emphatically. Rihanna isn't known to be a powerful singer but she certainly proved to be on the night.
It was party o'clock once more for the last time as 'What's My Name', 'Rude Boy' and 'Pon De Replay' reminded us of Rihanna's Bajan roots and absolutely blew everyone away. If you want to be entertained and have a good time at a concert, you go and see Rihanna strut her stuff. Everything was put into 'Cheers (Drink to that)' and it was another highlight of the show, every ounce of energy was piled into this one and 11,000 imaginary glasses were raised, along with the roof.
To finish, we had a hovering piano for 'Love The Way You Lie' which was a perfect showcase of her vocal abilities and then it was topped off, as it was last year, with the infamous 'Umbrella'.
It's a pitty her team let her down with regards to the sound issues at the beginning but Rihanna's energy, talent, and just presence in general made up for it at the end. Not as good as last years tour, with about a third of it being the same. That aside, it was an unbelievable, unforgettable night. Ri-commended.