Rihanna has always compensated for shortcomings in technical vocal ability with showmanship and arresting charisma. The international star delivered on levels with fashion, choreography, impressive stage aesthetics, dancers, and the band this past week as she played to a pack stadium at the First Niagara Center.
Promoting her Anti album, Rihanna will be playing 75 shows in 18 countries this time around. She stopped in Buffalo at First Niagara Center this past Wednesday, and the energy in the arena was explosive and contagious as fans danced, yelled, jumped, cheered, took pictures, and recited the lyrics to their favorite Rihanna tracks. Fans were in full force with a multi-generational diverse crowd displaying their best Rihanna inspired fashion trends, hair and make-up.
She opened the evening with the ballad “Stay,” emerging on a high platform in the rear of the arena wearing a boxer’s robe. She was then whisked away by a floating platform to meet with the rest of her band, who arose from beneath the stage like a magic trick.
During her set, she had the audacity to call Buffalo “ratchety.” Some of the crowd booed and most were insulted. She then proceeded to back pedal, gushing about how she loves the fans there etc. Sorry sister, you already insulted us Buffalonians. We have some serious pride in our town, and we have put a lot of work into our town to make it beautiful. Buffalo is far from “ratchety.”
Vocally, she was what she has always been. Stunning at her ballads, but not pleasing to the ear when it comes to her other music. It was partially a mumbled mess, especially during the song “Work”. She sang to a backing track most of the night.
The clothing options of the night left a lot to be desired. Her band and backup singers looked like they were civilians in the Star Wars movies. Regardless of poor costume choices, Rihanna’s several costume changes seemed to flow seamlessly between songs. While some were sexy; she wore her signature over-sized men’s suit, some were risqué and quite questionable.
Despite a lengthy set list of her biggest hits, the entire show was only about 90 minutes. The singer appeared to be having fun throughout the night, it appeared that she had her foot on the gas, speeding from one song to another in what felt like a race to the finish. “This is the sad part of the show, when you know it’s almost over,” she said shortly before closing out with “Kiss It Better.” Regardless of the disappointments of the evening, true Rihanna fans were not disappointed and definitely got their money`s worth in theatrics and sex appeal.