Rihanna Slays the Stage on Diamonds Tour at The ACC in Toronto [Review]
Toronto, ON – BadGalRiRi aka Rihanna was in Toronto on March 18th on her Diamonds Tour for the first of two shows, where she came well equipped to rock the stage at the Air Canada Centre. New York based underground rapper, now turning mainstream, A$AP Rocky joined the singer on tour as her opening act.
Around 8:00pm, the quick blackout of the lights signified that the show was about to start. Rocky, dressed in a black jacket, black pants, a white hat and white sneakers walked down the middle of the stage, past two screens lit up by a static image and began performing “Long.Live.A$AP” off his debut album Long.Live.A$AP. The crowd seemed unsure of Rocky and I felt the reception towards him was a little cold, not negative, but it wouldn’t be a far stretch to say that many weren’t familiar with him or his music. Nonetheless, as the venue filled up, the overall volume in the building also rose. Hit the jump to continue reading.
Rocky included 12-tracks into his set, a few from his mixtape Live.Love.A$AP and some from his debut album, including, “Wassup,” “Jodye,” “Angels,” “Wild For The Night,” “Pretty Flacko,” “Goldie,” “Kissin’ Pink,” “Trap Lord,” “Fashion Killa,” “F***in’ Problem,” and “Peso.” Rocky, who was born and raised in the mecca of Fashion, better known as Harlem, New York, rightfully oozes swag and is known for wearing the latest in high-fashion. Luckily for him, his attitude is far from pretentious and instead, he lets his charismatic personality really shine while he’s performing – he is genuinely a likeable guy. Opening for the super pop-star was a challenging task, but Rocky delivered a clean set for the fans that did know him and definitely gained some new fans in the long-run.
Rihanna, about an hour late, opened with the ballad “Mother Mary,” off her recent Unapologetic album. Here, Rih took to her knees, and alone on the stage wearing a full-length black dress, sang to the crowd with only the image of Mother Mary behind her. The set then changed as the intro of the faster paced “Phresh Out The Runway” rang through the speakers. A full band and a group of dancers backed the superstar. White pillars surrounded the stage while screens flashed images of chandeliers and flickered the colours gold, white and black. The set changed, along with her outfit, several times throughout the night according to which act in her setlist was being performed.
Rihanna had cancelled a few shows on her tour due to laryngitis and as much as I hoped she had fully recovered from her illness, during the first 15 minutes her vocals were not 100%. As she performed “Birthday Cake”, “Talk That Talk,” “Pour It Up,” “Cockiness,” and “Numb” her pitch went off key several times, and notes were missed. However, she began to pull it together during her reggae act and excelled beyond belief. With a reference to Toronto’s large Caribbean community the singer said, “I know Toronto loves this reggae music. We’re going to get it irie real quick”. She performed “You Da One” off Talk That Talk, “Man Down” from Loud, “Rude Boy,” from Rated R and “No Love Allowed” off Unapologetic. She was definitely in her element here and repped for all the Caribbeans in the room.
Fire blazed when she channeled her inner rocker during “Rockstar 101.” She spent most of this song on the floor, flipping her hair backwards, then forwards while the guitarist intensified the song.
The night slowed down when Rihanna asked the crowd, “Are any of you in love? Do some of you just not care? Or do some of you not understand it?” She continued, “Well, if you don’t understand it then sing this song with me. It’s two words, ‘what now’… What the f**k now?” Without question, the audience belted the lyrics out almost as if they had taken command. The lights dimmed again, and almost like the title of the freshly performed song, the crowd was left thinking ‘what now’? She re-surfaced wearing a beautiful two-piece ensemble, a red top and a long thin red skirt. She let out her softer side and performed “Love The Way You Lie Pt 2,” “Take A Bow,” “Cold Case Love,” “Hate That I Love You,” and “Get It Over With.” During this act her vocals were exceptionally clear and strong.
Rihanna continued to offer hit after hit, performing the dance-oriented pop tunes such as, “We Found Love,” “Only Girl,” “Please Don’t Stop The Music,” and “Where Have You Been.” For the last half-hour the energy from her was high and she looked absolutely amazing. Everything she was wearing was covered in big diamonds, from her jacket to her shoes. As she floated around the stage her clothes glistened light blue, pink and white. She had everyone on their feet, dancing and singing along with her. The singer herself was smiling from ear to ear and even ran through the crowd during “We Found Love.”
After the dance sequence in “Where Have You Been,” the stage cleared and the lights went out. But of course, we all knew the show wouldn’t be complete without an encore. Rihanna returned to the stage, and this time she wore a sparkly navy blue jumper. She performed the fan favourite “Stay,” then addressed the crowd by saying, “I love Toronto, no really, there’s so much culture here, you’re all so welcoming, it’s like one big family.” After the crowd screamed in approval, she finished by saying, “I will always come back to you Toronto”. Her final song for the night was “Diamonds,” and it turned out exceptional. Cell phones and camera flashes lit up the sea of people and the room resembled a nights sky. It was truly a beautiful sight.
Since the last time I saw Rihanna live in concert, it was obvious that she has grown and matured as an artist and as an individual. I love the way she performed on this tour, she was sexy, charming and even vulnerable at times. With the exception of minor vocal slip-ups, Rihanna put on a stellar show that was tasteful, raw and fun.
A very special thank you to Live Nation for allowing HipHopCanada to be apart of this show.
Review written by Natasha Paolini (@_natashawrites) for HipHopCanada