Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Rihanna's calling card: sexual, stylish, talented

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The name of Rihanna's current North American trek is the Loud Tour, but there are plenty of adjectives she could have used.

Pick one -- flashy, sexy, daring, glamorous, high-tech, dirty -- they would all do. And all would be accurate since there are plenty of words to use to describe a concert where one minute the star is simulating sex with a fan on a stage that sank into the ground before disappearing, only to re-emerge riding a pink tank that shoots T-shirts while a group of dancers dressed in sexy camouflage danced around it.

A crowd of 12,000 fans turned the MTS Centre into a club Saturday night -- complete with the largest concentration of high heels ever to appear in the downtown arena -- and witnessed an over-the-top two-hour show filled with almost every concert trick in the book that ranks as one of the biggest spectacles since Cher was last here in 2005.

"Winnipeg, one question: Who runs this town tonight?" she asked at one point.

The roar of screams told her everything she needed to know.

The 23-year-old beauty from Barbados took to the stage riding a giant glow ball that opened to reveal the star wearing a sparkling blue coat and hot- pink high-heeled boots while singing the hit, Only Girl (In the World), showing off her pure, booming voice that sets her apart from some of her peers.

The stage featured a moving sidewalk, four circular pods that flipped over and became video screens, two giant screens behind the stage and a pair of screens that flanked the stage high above two platforms that allowed her to get close to fans on both sides.

There were also two holes in the stage for a select group of about 100 fans near the risers that held her five-piece band.

Besides her band and two-backup vocalists, Rihanna was joined on stage by eight dancers who performed high-energy choreographed routines and served as her muse.

Following the opening number, which included an explosion of fireworks (did you expect anything less?), Rihanna dropped her blue coat to reveal a jewel- encrusted bikini for Disturbia. It was the first of numerous costume changes that showed off her fashion sense and plenty of skin.

Rihanna's scantily clad dancers stopped grinding long enough to rip the tuxedo off her to reveal a white PVC suit before chaining her to the poles for the single S&M. Her gyrations on top of the male fan from the crowd came at the conclusion of Skin.

For some in the crowd (this writer, included) the night's biggest attraction was the chance to see Cee Lo Green, the rotund Atlanta native who evolved from a little-known rapper into a soul powerhouse and worldwide sensation, thanks to his work with Danger Mouse in the rap-pop group Gnarls Barkley and the Grammy-winning viral hit F-You, the phrase boldly proclaimed on a bright red T-shirt being sold at the merch booth.

The aloof Green was backed by a DJ, two dancers and three LED video screens for his brief 40-minute set that would have been better in a club.

rob.williams@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 20, 2011 D4

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