Rihanna’s over-the-top show features every concert trick in the book

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 18/06/2011 (4252 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

MTS Centre

Attendance: 12,000

Four out of five stars

john.woods@freepress.mb.ca Rihanna performs at the MTS Centre Saturday.

 

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 reemerge 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 in 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 her peers.

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

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

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

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

For Shut Up and Drive she danced around the front of a car before pulling up two fans to help her dancers beat it with plastic bats before disappearing. She returned wearing a black tuxedo while riding a setpiece that looked like a sex dungeon, complete with stripper poles, for a sultry cover of Prince’s Darling Nikki. 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.

After the sexcapades, she changed the mood up with the ride on the pink camouflaged tank for the frenzied Hard while her dancers twirled fake pink machine guns. She ran through the crowd to a satellite stage to bang on some drums while singing Sheila E’s Glamorous Life. She returned to the stage for one of the musical highlights of the night, the anthemic Live Your Life. Another musical high point, the ballad Hate That I Love You, was performed on one of the side platforms with only an acoustic guitar, proving she can show some restraint, as she did during closing ballad, Take a Bow, which finished the main 100-minute set.

She returned seated on a grand piano set up at the front of the stage for Love the Way You Lie before the piano rose into the air on a platform and spun slowly while fog enveloped the stage. The night ended with the uber-hit, Umbrella, as confetti filled the room, Rihanna’s dancers twirled umbrellas and people danced in their seats.

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 which was 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 wasn’t as loud as it could have been and would have been a better fit with a more excited crowd at a club, or the Winnipeg Jazz Festival’s free stage at Old Market Square, than the arena.

Green showed off both his hip-hop side and soul man persona during his set, which featured a mixture of solo material, including Bright Lights, Bigger City, Wildflower and The One, along with his biggest hits, Crazy, and F*** You, which had the entire crowd singing along.

He reprimanded the audience for sitting down about halfway through his set and looked completely disinterested during Satisfied, even performing with his hands in his pockets. Crazy followed a couple songs later and was anything but.

“It’s a shame that this is the only song that people really, really know,” he said as an introduction to F*** You, giving the crowd the verbal equivalent of a middle finger.

rob.williams@freepress.mb.ca

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