A “Phresh” performance

Although apparently meeting expectations with crowd-pleasing hits like “Duffle Bag Boy,” “Birthday Song” and “I’m Different,” his set was little more than him shouting lyrics into the mic; yelling, “Say what?!” for no apparent reason; taking gratuitous bows; and occasionally delivering a few lines of actual rap that made the listener wonder if maybe he had talent at one time.

Someone please steal that man’s karaoke machine.

After opening with low-key “Mother Mary,” Rihanna disappeared behind a wall that rose to reveal a sparse, Greek-themed stage complete with columns and muses. With “Phresh Out the Runway,” she jumped straight into a mixture of high-energy hits from her 2012 release Unapologetic and 2011’s Talk That Talk, and ended the set with Reggae-influenced tracks “Man Down” and “No Love Allowed,” a Reggae-infused version of “What’s My Name?” and an attitude-driven rendition of “Rude Boy.” A full band, lead by ex-Extreme guitarist Nuno Bettencourt, and intricate, high-energy choreography performed flawlessly by both Rihanna and her trained dancers immediately dispelled possible worries that she might underdeliver.

After a strange set and costume change inspired by motocross, Rihanna paid homage to the past with “Jump,” which features a sample of Ginuine’s 1996 hit “Pony”; a fun-filled delivery of “Umbrella”; part of Kanye West’s “All of the Lights”; a truly sassy, badass performance of “Rockstar 101”; and a gratuitously fire-filled “What Now.”

Her return to a nearly empty, simple set in a tasteful red dress to sing the sultry “Loveeeeeee Song” along with a Future sample and ballads “Love the Way You Lie (Part II)” and “Take a Bow” was a reminder that all true talent really needs is a microphone and a spotlight. That sassy girl from Barbados can really sing, and don’t you forget it.

Rihanna’s Diamonds World Tour wouldn’t be complete without some bling, and the final act of the show was rife with sparkle-laden costumes and fun. “We Found Love” and a dance mix of “S&M,” “Only Girl (In the World)” and “Don’t Stop the Music” that led into “Where Have You Been” re-energized the audience. The night ended with honest, heartfelt, chill-inducing performances of “Stay” and “Diamonds” and Rihanna thanking the audience and leaving through the back of the stage, still dancing and smiling.

If I had to choose one word to describe Rihanna and her performance last night, it would be “stunning,” absolutely stunning.

Brittany Pickering

Brittany is a copy editor and occasional writer. She holds a bachelors degree in English from the University of Central Oklahoma and a certificate in publishing from The Publishing Institute at the University of Denver. She has spent the last six years copyediting books and journalistic writing.

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