Rihanna @ Bell Centre – May 1, 2013

rihanna diamond tourIt was the second stop in Montreal on her current Diamonds World Tour and when she finally takes the stage (as mentioned frequently on the tour she comes on fairly late) Rihanna is ready to rock da house.

Opening the show was underground and now mainstream rapper A$AP Rocky (who will be back later this summer co-headlining with Wiz Khalifa).  He opened his set with the song “Long.Live.A$AP”.  Performing a combination of songs from his mixtape and his debut album album he eventually won over the crowd, which started off demure then got more and more into it during his lengthy (12 songs) set.  As a performer he is quite charismatic and though I don’t know tons about his music I ended enjoying the set due to his likable personality and the fact that he cleaned up the language content of his music.  I’m sure he gained some fans due to his performance.  It takes some cahones to open up for such a huge pop star and it seems like this guy has them in spades.

Muuuuch later Rihanna took the stage and opened with the ballad “Mother Mary”.  The song is from her latest album Unapologetic.  It was a somewhat demure and stark beginning for such a controversial performer.  Rihanna was alone on stage in a long black dress with the image of the Virgin Mary projected on the screens behind her.  Not exactly what I expected from her and I think that is what I like about Rihanna.  She never seems to follow the rules or do what is expected.  Will always keep you guessing.

One thing you don’t have to guess about at a show of Rihanna’s is that she is going to play hit after hit (she recently made news by being the first solo act to accumulate 10 Number 1 singles) and you are going to have the opportunity to dance your butt off.  Immediately the set changed and so did the tempo.  Out came the dancers and up went the tempo for “Phresh Out the Runway”.

The set and her costume changed with each new section (after each mini intermission).  Each change signaled a different style of songs and mood.  For instance there was a whole reggae section that included the songs “Rude Boy” and “What’s My Name”.  With a large Caribbean population the crowd in Montreal really got into this section and so did the Bajan performer.  It was in this section, maybe due to her connection to the rhythm of the songs, that her voice (which she’s had some problems with lately having to cancel some shows) was its strongest.  Though a close second in the voice category (and number one in the outfit category with a long two piece red number) was the slower section of songs that included “Love the Way You Lie” and “Take a Bow”.  Her voice was clear and strong. She even showed a more vulnerable Rihanna at times during this section.  But the cloak of protection (though I don’t exactly blame her after all she has gone through with the Chris Brown mess) went right back on immediately afterwards.

Onstage her persona (because I don’t believe it is the true Rihanna up there, we just get a character she is playing) is odd.  She is not the warm pop star from Barbados.  She keeps it cool and keeps her distance.  Giving very little to the crowd because they seem to lap that up from her.  Onstage it is almost like she doesn’t give a rats’ ass.  It works for her as she is marketing herself as the darker Rihanna.  Rihanna is the ice queen and we love it.

rihanna diamond tour2One part of her live show that has improved is her dancing.  Even though she plays the ice queen she is less stiff while dancing than she has been in the past.  She looks her best when she is just improvising rather than following the choreography.  Always the rebel.  Whoever choreographed the show was also smart enough to keep the dancers restrained enough that they did not completely outshine the headliner.

Over the last 30 minutes of the show the energy was kept at a high with dance song after dance song performed.  The crowd was vocal in their appreciation and Rihanna fed off that energy.  The from head to toe diamond clad performer wore a perma-smile on her face while working the stage from side to side.

Since the “Pon da Replay” (which she did not sing) days Rihanna has grown up quite a bit.  I mean as a performer.  You can see the maturing process, which is still going on as she is only 25-years-old.  Despite some missed notes and her cool stage persona she is still likeable and has enough charisma to keep a big crowd entertained and having a fun night.

Set List:

  1. 1. Mother Mary
  1. 2. Phresh Out the Runway
  1. 3. Birthday Cake
  1. 4. Talk That Talk
  1. 5. Pour It Up
  1. 6. Cockiness (Love It)
  1. 7. Numb

Intermission

  1. 8. You da One
  1. 9. Man Down

10. No Love Allowed

11. Rude Boy

12. What’s My Name?

Intermission

13. Jump

14. Umbrella

15. All of the Lights (Kanye West cover)

16. Rockstar 101

17. What Now

Intermission

18. Loveeeeeee Song

19. Love the Way You Lie (Part II) / Take a Bow / Cold Case Love

20. Hate That I Love You

21. Red Lipstick (Instrumental) 

22. We Found Love  

23. S&M / Only Girl (In the World) / Don’t Stop the Music (includes excerpts from “SOS”)

24. Where Have You Been

Encore:

25. Stay

26. Diamonds

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