Live Reviews, Pop — September 16, 2013 at 10:38 am

LIVE REVIEW: Rihanna in Macau


© Steve Schechter

September 13, 2013
Cotai Arena, Venetian Hotel, Macau
Reviewed by: Steve Schechter


Rihanna brought a slightly scaled-down version of her Diamonds World Tour to the Cotai Arena in Macau and left the opening night sell-out crowd wanting more. Backed by a four-piece band featuring Extreme’s Nuno Bettencourt, two back-up singers, eight dancers, multiple high definition video screens and half a dozen flame jets, the show seemed almost minimal compared to the spectacles staged by Lady Gaga and some of Rihanna’s other peers (not that she has many).

The night kicked off with a decent set from Miami DJ duo We Are GTA. After far too long a break, Rihanna hit the stage around 10pm for a slightly less-than-90-minute set running through most of her greatest hits. She was all smiles, warmer and friendlier and more talkative than one might expect, even sitting at the edge of the stage following her third song to change from her stiletto-heeled boots into a pair of sneakers, complaining that the stage was too slippery.

As with the rest of the tour, the show was divided into multiple “acts.” However, Rihanna chose to stay with one outfit for the entire concert, rather than changing outfits for each act. The Macau show also ran slightly shorter than other shows on the tour.

One doesn’t approach a concert from an artist like Rihanna expecting spontaneity or nightly reinvention. One expects note-perfect performances, and Ri Ri delivered that in spades. Highlights included Bettencourt’s fluid guitar solo on “Rockstar 101,” dance favorites “Only Girl in the World” and “We Found Love,” but for me the best moments of the night came during the encore – standing still at the mike to belt out the ballad “Sad.” With the heavy production on her singles, it can be easy to forget what a powerful voice Rihanna really has, but anyone who hears her sing this song live won’t have trouble remembering that she’s actually a seriously good singer.

But after that, she moved back into generic territory again, announcing to the audience, “Tonight has been one of my favorite shows just because of you.” I wonder if she makes the same announcement after every concert. There was one more song, “Diamonds” and I for one left the concert feeling it had ended way too soon.


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