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Review: Rihanna at The Stadium of Light, Sunderland

Well into the UK leg of her Diamonds tour, Mark Douglas was at Sunderland's Stadium of Light to catch global superstar Rihanna

Rihanna on stage in concert at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland
Rihanna on stage in concert at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland

Rihanna has dubbed this the Diamonds tour, so it figured that her two-hour set at a frantic Stadium of Light was expensive, pretty and near rock solid.

As arguably the biggest female pop singer on the planet, she was expected to deliver and she did that with a bold and brash show that revealed substance beneath the undeniable style.

More than 50,000 – most of whom seemed pretty well-refreshed – undoubtedly agreed.

There was swaying in the aisles all night, and that wasn’t just down to the drink, which flowed freely throughout the Sunderland venue’s latest big name gig.

Rihanna seemed to be having a good time too, barring the one moment where she had to warn fans not to throw stuff on the stage or “We be going home early”.

No danger of that as she rolled through a set that was slick and stylish, and encompassed five costume changes as well as proving this is an artist who is always interesting – not something that always rings true when slick R ‘n’ B artists embark on this kind of tour.

Think the likes of tacky Will.I.Am and you’ll understand why the charts are a healthier place with Rihanna, who seems adrift in a sea of contradictions.

She’s the platinum artist who sings catchy ditties about “chains and whips” and the hit parade heroine who gyrates like a belly dancer throughout a slinky set.

It makes her consistently compelling, even if the night doesn’t really explode until she re-introduces us to break-out hit Umbrella – a song that, remarkably is five years old.

Undeniably a great pop song – as is the Kanye West cover All of the Lights, which she lent her undeniably addictive lilt to in 2011 – but it was We Found Love that really sent a rocket through the Wearside crowd as they bounced to the Calvin Harris-produced hi-energy beat. Ditto S&M, the controversial anthem that came replete with suggestive dances on the night.

David Guetta provided ample back up before Rihanna’s grand entrance – which was on time, unlike at other venues around the country. If there was a complaint it was the sporadic fighting that broke out among moronic men – and women – in the crowd.

No-one should be coming to a gig like this to get tanked up and scrap.

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer