RISQUÉ, rebellious and riveting – Rihanna is everything you can expect from a modern-day pop star.
She may only be the second solo singer to perform at the Stadium of Light in five years, but Rihanna has the stage presence of a whole rock band all rolled into one.
Which is handy as it’s her X Factor charisma which glues you to watching her on stage, rather than any theatrical dancing or effects.
Despite being in the midst of a 92-date whirlwind tour of the globe, Rihanna is a laid-back performer who slinks about the stage and takes the adoration thrown at her from the audience all in her lengthy, thigh high-booted stride.
Maybe it’s a casualness instilled in her thanks to her Bajan roots or maybe it’s because this is a woman who’s confident in her ability to fill a stadium.
Whatever it is - it works.
This was the biggest crowd to date at the home of the Black Cats and the 25-year-old owned the 57,500-strong audience for the duration of her two-hour set.
Despite being late on other dates on her UK tour, the chart-topper was bang on time for her Mackem fans.
If you love Rihanna, you’ll love this show: the saucy starlet works her way through all her hits with aplomb. But there isn’t the spectacle and theatrics we’ve experienced with the likes of Coldplay and Take That at our home ground.
Instead, the spotlight is firmly placed on the vocals, which you couldn’t fault. She began the show with lesser-known tracks from her latest album Unapologetic such as Phresh Out The Runway which she performed resplendent in a gold and black Egyptian-chic inspired outfit.
She peppered her performance with shout outs to “Sunderland” in her distinctive Caribbean twang.
You’d be forgiven for thinking she was oblivious to Sunderland’s existence prior to this performance but she proclaimed that she’d been hearing about this date all week on Facebook and Twitter.
Wearside didn’t disappoint. Thanks to a high-octane warm up from David Guetta, the Sunderland crowd were in the mood to party.
Rihanna’s seventh studio album Unapologetic has spawned one of her best tracks - Diamonds - with its predecessor Talk That Talk producing world-wide hits We Found Love and Where Have You Been and these were definitely highlights of her set.
For finale Diamonds, she shone as bright as the tracks’s name in a dress that sparkled into the night sky.