Rihanna thrives in larger spotlight

A review of Rihanna, Ke$ha at the Comcast Center on August 8, 2010

, Managing Editor

It was clear from the beginning that dreams were the theme for Rihanna’s “Last Girl On Earth Tour” as her show began with a video displaying the Barbadian pop starlet sleeping in an “Avatar”-like chamber. However, it appeared as if Rihanna “overslept” as the young diva-in-the-making kept fans waiting for well over an hour after fellow chart-topper Kesha had departed. Still, her thousands of screaming fans didn’t seem to mind as they screeched at the sight of her with a sound that could wake up the dead… or at least a sleepy pop star.

The show was broken into four mini sets and an encore, each complete with a wardrobe change, in classic diva fashion. The flow of the performance was ideal as Rihanna balanced each set with both dance tracks and love ballads. The show started off with a bang, literally, as shirtless armed soldiers fired a “shot” at the leading lady to cap off “Russian Roulette”. The first set was barely slowed down for “Fire Bomb”, as Rihanna belted the tune out from atop the busted car that was a featured piece for “Shut Up and Drive”. The set concluded with stilt-walking creatures circling Rihanna during “Disturbia” before her ghoulish dancers chased her off the stage.

Recent singles, “Rock Star 101” and “Rude Boy” kept the energy high for the second set but it was a more intimate moment that was the highlight. Rihanna and most of her band, including Extreme guitarist and Boston’s own Nuno Bettencourt, gathered on the pink tank prop that protruded into the first few rows. It was a campy moment as the group huddled together and played a stripped down “Hate That I Love You So” as fans sang along with every note.

Sets three and four were polar opposites as set three was wholly tender except for the scorching “Te Amo”, while set four was entirely energetic except for the closing ballad “Take A Bow”.  Nuno ripped through the intro to “Te Amo” on a classical ax, while the entertainment seemed inspired by Pink’s “Funhouse” work as dancers did a trapeze act while attached to AK 47 props. Rihanna set up the encore perfectly with a rousing fourth set. “Don’t Stop the Music” kicked things off before “Breakin’ Dishes” segued into a full on Sheila E. impression as Rihanna and co. busted into “The Glamorous Life” complete with some work on the drums from the star. Rihanna finally took some time out to thank her fans as she sat on the dim-lit stage before “Take A Bow”, sticking to the shows theme as she expressed, “thanks for letting me live me dream”. After snippets of her collaborative work on T.I.’s “Live Your Life” and Jay-Z’s “Run This Town” she concluded the dream sequence with her biggest hit, “Umbrella”.

This is Rihanna’s biggest tour yet, not just date-wise, but also in production. The star certainly thrived in the larger spotlight and at just 22-years old she has one of the brightest futures in the industry. We’ll see if she can keep those dreams from turning into nightmares.

Ke$ha drew fans in early and got the energy soaring, energy that unfortunately dropped off with the wait. With several Top Ten hits of her own, including set closer “Tik Tok” (#1), it probably won’t be long before she’s headlining shows of this magnitude herself.


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