By John-John Williams IV
The Baltimore Sun
8:20 AM EDT, April 25, 2013
A little more than a month after postponing her Diamond World Tour concert in Baltimore, Rihanna delivered a stellar performance last night at 1st Mariner Arena.
The rescheduled performance appeared to have little effect on her screaming fans. The pop princess pulled out all the stops, performing hit after hit.
She started with a very dramatic opening scene, where she appeared to be kneeling in a black cloak. She launched into "Mother Mary," "Phresh off the Runway" and "Birthday Cake." And just like that, she had seduced her audience and could do no wrong.
Although there was more than an hour between the end of her opening act, A.S.A.P Rocky, finishing his performance and her taking the stage, Rihanna soon made the audience forget about the delay.
She quickly ingratiated herself with the crowd by apologizing for canceling her original concert last month.
She complimented the crowd's energy before launching into a slew of gyrating-worthy hits such as "Pour It Up" and "Cockiness (I Love It.)" Her golden brown curls bounced from side to side as she popped, locked, grinded, thrusted and manuevered across the stage in highly sexualized dances. There was no question that this concert was geared toward her adult fans.
Let’s get this out of the way really quick: Rihanna is never going to be asked to sing a tribute performance for an esteemed songstresses such as Aretha Franklin. But there's nothing wrong with that. Rihanna's strength comes with her overall packaging. It's her look, image, persona and ability to make unwavering hits. She's got the Midas touch when it comes to songs. Her latest single, "Stay" went to No. 1 on Billboard, giving her the distinction of being the first artist with 10 No. 1 singles.
She put them all on display at last night's concerts. Her body of work is quite impressive.
My only other criticism of her performance was her lip syncing, which was terribly off at times. There were moments when she didn't have the microphone to her mouth, even though the lyrics from the pre-recorded tracks were belting out throughout the venue. But it was forgivable -- especially with the energy she exerted when she danced and worked the stage.
Rihanna not only kept up with her phenomenal backup dancers, she appeared to be equally as capable as them of landing a gig on any major concert tour.
Equally impressive to her dancing was her stage production, which included an ancient Greek vignette; a slew of large screens that flashed images throughout the performance; an edgy rock scene filled with leaping flames; and a descending platform that swallowed up Rihanna between clothing changes.
Rihanna, a fashion palette in her own right, looked comfortable rocking a variety of looks. From an embellished parka to her thigh-high white leather Christian Louboutin boots, Rihanna appeared in no less than a half dozen costume changes throughout the night. My favorites included a multi-color blocked two-piece leather number, and before mention boots, which were beyond eye-catching.
The highlights of the night came in Rihanna's second set, which featured more of her Caribbean-based hits such as "You Da One," "Man Down," and "Rude Boy."
Her fourth set was a smorgasbord of hits: "Love the Way You Lie," "Take A Bow," "We Found Love," "S&M," "Only Girl (In The World)," "Don't Stop The Music," and "Where Have You Been."
Her encore consisted of "Diamonds," which was appropriate given that the tour is named for the hit song. At the end of the encore, she blew kisses to the crowd, waved to more people who screamed her name, thanked her band for their work and disappeared backstage.
It was a fitting ending for an artist who offers a fairly complete package.
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