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.
Rihannas 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.