Danforth Music Hall, Toronto, ON, November 15
She greeted the crowd with a "Toronto, what the fuck is up?" — something she reiterated a few times in the heavily F-bomb-laden night — with her modest but talented group of musicians behind her (including one-time Extreme guitarist Nuno Bettencourt). They opened with "Cockiness (I Love It)," to which RiRi strutted the stage, posing provocatively for the hundreds of shutter-happy smartphone cameras. She was primed for affection and she got it nice and loud.
Mixing the set with a smattering of new tracks ("Diamonds," "Phresh Off the Runway") and smash hits ("Don't Stop the Music," "Where Have You Been"), the pared-down production was executed almost as if it was in an arena (the lasers were a nice touch). It's a shame then that Rihanna still doesn't have the voice to match her gargantuan persona. She bristled with self-assurance and swagger, but at times avoided some of the big notes, relying a little too much on her two backing singers.
Her fans didn't care in the slightest, however, and were easily infected by Rihanna's unbridled energy. Hell, even the muscle heads couldn't help but sing their hearts out during the lulling ballad portion of the set, which included slow ones like "Unfaithful," "Take a Bow" and "Hate That I Love You."
It wasn't just about her songs, as RiRi also ran through a medley of sorts that featured Jay-Z's "Run This Town," T.I.'s "Life Your Life" and Eminem's "Love the Way You Lie." For the abbreviated "What's My Name," there was no surprise appearance by hometown boy Drake, though everyone was eagerly awaiting the former lovebirds to rekindle the flame right before their eyes (dropping the intro to "Take Care" felt like an even bigger tease).
After nearly 90 minutes, Rihanna ended things with her two biggest hits to date: a rocked-out version of "Umbrella," then a euphoric, resounding "We Found Love," which climaxed with shiny silver confetti falling from above.
Getting up close and personal to one of the planet's biggest stars made it a night to remember, but there's no denying that what she'll bring to the much bigger stage in a few months is the kind of spectacle that's made her what she is.
ReviewsJun 18, 2015
TinkAdelaide Hall, Toronto ON, June 17
By the time Tink hit the stage, her DJ — sporting a white "Think Tink" T-shirt — had already warmed up the crowd by spinning tra...
ReviewsJun 09, 2015
RhyeThéâtre Corona, Montreal QC, June 8
It's been nearly two years since Canadian-Danish R&B duo Rhye performed in Montreal, and my, how things have changed. Their set at the Montr...
ReviewsMay 20, 2015
PrinceSony Centre, Toronto ON, May 19
Wow. What a show. When it was announced this past Saturday (May 16) that the enigma born Prince Rogers Nelson set a Toronto date for his...
ReviewsApr 07, 2015
IbeyiFortune Sound Club, Vancouver BC, April 6
The full house at Fortune Sound Club was in for a show most would fathom unimaginable as Ibeyi played the final set of their first North Ame...
ReviewsFeb 21, 2015
Theophilus LondonTattoo, Toronto ON, February 20
For such a seemingly talented dude, Theophilus London seems hell-bent on mediocrity. Right off the jump last night (February 20) at Tattoo i...
ReviewsFeb 05, 2015
Sam SmithRogers Arena, Vancouver BC, February 4
With a sold-out Rogers Arena buzzing in anticipation, and the first notes of "Life Support" igniting the sound system, a dark curtain droppe...
ReviewsJul 07, 2015
Trans Am / Sur Une PlageFox Cabaret, Vancouver BC, July 6
Following a selection of 45s by Jeremy Schmidt (aka Sinoia Caves), Vancouver duo Sur Une Plage meekly took the stage. With Joshua Wells (Lig...
ReviewsJul 05, 2015
Lee Fields and the ExpressionsAmigos Cantina, Saskatoon SK, July 4
Lee Fields packed Amigos Cantina to the rafters for his sweat-powered soul as the festival weekend drew to a close. It was all sweat and smi...