Concert Review: Rihanna (Twickenham Stadium, London)
Rihanna proves why she reigns supreme as the hottest performer in the business, making history by selling out Twickenham Stadium at the age of just 25. Bigger than the Loud Tour and nastier than the Good Girl Gone Bad Tour, Rihanna has outdone herself with her best show yet. Channelling her Caribbean roots, Rihanna gyrated and thrusted in typical Bajan swagger to the 80,000 strong audience, which included her mother and father.
You think she would have toned down her sexually provocative persona for them, but why ruin a good thing? Rihanna’s explicit prowess is what makes her one of the most interesting and appealing performers of her time. Demonstrated perfectly with opening numbers ‘Phresh Out The Runway’ and ‘Birthday Cake’, Rihanna’s strides are bold and powerful, her stage presence authoritative.
Always hedonistic and rightly so, Rihanna can now add stadium shows to her list of boasts. She plays up to the idea as she launches into ‘Pour It Up’ and keeps up this theme as she reprises ‘Rockstar 101‘ from her 2009 album Rated R: ‘To be what you is you gotta be what you are / The only thing I’m missing is a black guitar’. Rife with guitar solos and inspired arrangements of tracks, Rihanna’s musicianship also makes an appearance this evening. The thing with Rihanna is that she can take on virtually any genre and win; from reggae to electro-pop, piano ballads to stadium rock.
With seven albums under her belt and over thirty singles, she has reached the stage where her discography could never be contained within a 90 minute set. Compiling the set list can’t have been easy and you could tell she kept it tight, restricting ‘Take A Bow’ and ‘Hate That I Love You’ into a medley of slow jams. This wasn’t a bad thing, though, as new songs from recent album Unapologetic are given attention. ‘Numb’ sees Rihanna fading into self-induced delirium and ‘Jump’ sees her characteristically popping her booty, emerging in red lighting while balls of fire burst all around her. With album tracks as good as these, there really isn’t much room for other favourites; notably ‘Disturbia’ and ‘Shut Up And Drive’.
Visually, the Diamonds World Tour is symbol heavy. Numerous diamond symbols and that stylised ‘R’ Rihanna keeps trying to make happen, flash about and weave successfully into an image conscious stage design. Backdrops are key and reveal Rihanna in all kinds of get-ups, trying to make us believe she truly is the bad girl she wants to portray; Rihanna the convict, Rihanna the gangster, even Rihanna the chainsaw-wielding murderer. She makes you believe she’s America’s most wanted even if you didn’t know that already.
Her finale is the real indicator of the how much of a pop power-house Rihanna really is. Little-known song ‘We Found Love‘ starts us off and by the time the riotous ‘S&M’ is over, you’re already immersed in the massive ‘Only Girl (In The World)’. That’s not even it, as the audience erupts upon hearing the first line of ‘Don’t Stop The Music‘ only to have ‘Where Have You Been’ assault you directly after an all encompassing bombardment of the senses. Phew, that’s a lot of hits.
The encore features mega-ballads ‘Stay‘ and ‘Diamonds’. They are declarations of her strong musical career and act as mile stones for Rihanna. For those who thought they symbolised a new, more conservative image and sound for her can rest assured that she is far from toning things down. Rihanna is still firmly rated R.
For information about the remaining European tour dates visit Rihanna’s official website.