AHEAD of superstar Rihanna’s appearance in Sunderland next summer, Katy Wheeler reviewed the singer’s show in London on the day of her new album’s release.
SEVEN cities, seven days, seven gigs – one dazzling glimpse into what Wearside can expect from Rihanna’s forthcoming Stadium of Light Diamonds concert.
To mark the 24-year-old’s seventh album Unapologetic, she’s been jetting a group of fans and journalists around the globe on a Boeing 777 for a whirlwind tour.
Last night saw her take in the sixth date - London - on the day of the album’s release. As the album swept to the top of the iTunes chart in the UK, Rihanna played an intimate, yet high-octane, set at the HMV Forum in Kentish Town.
The star of the show didn’t appear on stage until 10pm, an hour after we were told to expect her, but the 2000-strong crowd were so effervescent with excitement to see their idol they didn’t seem to care.
Resplendent in a white trouser suit, crop top, sky scraper red stilettos and matching vamp lipstick, she slinked around the stage panther-esque, oozing sexuality and top tunes.
The hour and a half-long set was a tour-de-force of songs which have helped the Barbados-born beauty become an unstoppable hit-making machine.
Despite some of the tracks, including 2007’s Don’t Stop the Music, harking back to Rihanna’s more pop-orientated years, she imbued them with a freshness that made them sound like current hits.
More recent chart-toppers, Only Girl in the World and Run This Town, sounded anthemic as she belted out track after track to a packed house that was peppered with celebrities including Radio 1’s Nick Grimshaw and Annie Mac.
Indeed, it’s easy to forget just how many hits Rihanna has had in her seven years in the business but she batted them into the crowd one after one with full force.
This is a woman who knows her craft and, ever the perfectionist, she halted proceedings during Where Have You Been to scold the band for their performance, demanding they start again.
Diva she may be, but the busiest woman in pop knows how to put on a show - and she isn’t going to apologise for it.
Despite the small-scale venue, production values were high as the audience were dazzled with a pulsating light show to accompany the music.
Due to the small scale nature of the gig, costume changes were out of the question, but the style icon managed to mix it up by wearing her jacket in various different ways.
At one point, she didn’t get the jacket off in time before the song started so she just wore it on one arm - it still looked cool. In fact, everything she did looked cool.
Her dance moves were effortless, just the odd hip thrust, stroke of the body and arm raised, but even this had a sultry edginess to it.
RiRi threw in a couple of tracks from the new album, as well as a shameless plug of her sponsors, but it was her classics that proved most popular.
Many of the crowd had come armed with umbrellas for Umbrella - an ode to rain which reigned supreme in the British charts for ten weeks - and it proved a real highlight of the show.
Rihanna is of course the kind of starlet that’s used to large-scale shows, not ones in a converted Art Deco cinema.
This was a rare chance to see the singer up close and personal and if this is the kind of show she can put on in a pared-down venue, the sky’s the limit for her Stadium of Light gig.