Rihanna ends Loud tour in Boston

A review of Rihanna at the TD Garden in Boston on July 24, 2011

, Contributing Writer

When Rihanna took the stage at the Boston’s TD Garden on Sunday night, there was no question as to what kind of show it was going to be. Fashionably late to the final North American date of the Loud tour and on a stage adorned with four giant moving round screens, smoke, flashing lights, and more, when the singer finally did appear is was in a glowing orb, dressed in a shiny blue jacket and her signature red hair. But while it was the spectacle of it all that was prominent, the real Rihanna stole the show.

With its impressive production, the overall performance of Rihanna’s Loud tour was something to be seen. however, it didn’t really seem to be who the singer is at heart and it showed. The true star, whose powerful vocals and smile can light up a whole arena like the Garden – was what made the night special.

The evening got off to a shaky start. Performing such hits as “Only Girl (In The World)” and “Disturbia”, the singer gave little effort into actually singing. Despite a moving sidewalk of sorts to carry her from side to side, brightly colored and bejeweled lingerie, and dancers dressed in neon, the setup couldn’t distract from the fact that Rihanna seemed distracted. In some cases, as she later explained, it was due to “last night on the tour” pranks from crew members that brought her laughter.

After reappearing again on stage, a result of the many costume changes that had her exiting from below and behind the stage throughout the night, the show took a turn for the darker. Dressed in a suit for a cover of Prince’s “Dear Nikki”, dancers posing as strippers quickly removed the outfit to reveal more lingerie. But as sexy as Rihanna is, a fact that was capitalized on throughout the show and especially during video interludes, this portion of the show just didn’t really seem like her, and resulted in more on-stage giggle fits. “Skin” was more convincing as she lay on top of a fan from the audience and gave him a (albeit quickly) a lap dance before both disappeared beneath the stage.

Finally, after another segment which included a pink military tank, Rihanna played the drums on a platform in the middle of the venue as a transition out of Sheila E’s “The Glamorous Life”. Radio hits that featured the singer such as the Jay-Z and Kanye collaboration “Run This Town” and T.I.’s “Live Your Life” came a part of the show where the artist could really shine. Appearing in a long yellow dress that still somehow left little to the imagination, Rihanna showed her vocal chops on numbers like “Unfaithful” and her Ne-Yo duet “Hate That I Love You”, which she performed off to the side with an acoustic guitar. Stripped down, with nothing but a smile and her voice to carry her through on that stage, Rihanna proved herself to be more than just another pop star.

Unfortunately, that was show’s finest moment as Rihanna couldn’t quite release the electricity needed to sustain the bigger numbers. She returned once more in a bra that didn’t quite want to stay up and hot pants, performing to “Rude Boy” and her new brand new single, “Cheers (Drink To That)”. She did, however, slow things down for the final number of the regular set. Putting on a jacket to class things up a bit, she sat on the edge of the stage to talk to the audience.

“I’m sad,” she told the crowd with what seemed to be genuine affection. It was last night of the tour and in most prior cases she explained that she’d be homesick but not this time. “Couldn’t pick a better city [to end the tour], to be quite honest.” With that, she launched into “Take A Bow”.

Returning for a 2-song encore, Rihanna flew through the arena on a floating platform as she sung her duet with Eminem, “Love The Way You Lie (Part II)” from her piano. To cap off the show, glitter rained from the sky and rain gear was brought out for the smash hit “Umbrella”. Disappointingly lackluster when compared to the evening’s previous theatrics, a lot was left to be desired as the singer waved goodbye to the crowd. But as she smiled there on stage, looking out at the cheering audience members, it was hard not to smile back. It was clear that Rihanna had done her job for the night – even if it was just barely.

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