Sometime last week, my girl Vanita at Grubstreet asked me if I liked Rihanna and would be interested in going to see ANTI World Tour at the Barclay’s Center with her and the team at Armand de Brignac. Of course I said “yes!” A resounding “Hell yes!” and I’m so glad I did. Motto of the night, it’s just Jay’s world and we’re all living in it, drinking his champagne, chilling at his venue, listening to his artists, on tour with his touring company. The team at Armand de Brignac showed us an amazing time. A wonderful champagne toast in the Billboard magazine lounge, amazing seats to see Rih Rih and her opener, Travis Scott, and great company with the BerkComm team and other journalists. Plus, Vanita is a hell of a time. I was a Rihanna fan before, but doubted her chops as a performer. I walked away floored. Here’s why:
- She might not be perfect, she openly says she aint nobody’s role model but she keeps it real! Sure there are performers that really put on a show that’s mind numbingly perfect down to every dance move. Well that’s not Rih Rih, she hardly dances really. Once in a while gesticulating with some basic moves but lets the dancers, voguers and body benders really dance around her, and that’s ok.
- Speaking of keeping it real and lacking perfect, remember, you’re there to see Rihanna. So there’s no need for flashy backdrops, or pyrotechnics. In fact, her backdrops were bizarrely simple. Weird undulating plastic blobs, one of which deflated three-quarters of the way through the show. But not to worry, the equally strange plastic wall in the back started spewing a soapy foam. It was just laughable really. And it felt like Rih was laughing at us.
- You really become even more of a Rihanna fan as she takes you through her catalog. From her poppy debut with “S.O.S.” to her dance diva anthems like “We Found Love” and Carribbean leanings of “Man Down” and “Work” to rocker-Rihanna with “Desperado.” Anti’s set list really displays Rih Rih’s range and shows you why the Navy is so diverse.
- You get to hear Rih Rih! Her voice! Rihanna doesn’t give television / web interviews very often. Kind of like Leo DiCaprio (mhmm), when Rihanna talks, you stop and listen. Her Bajan lilt, her jokes, her repoire with the audience, it’s amazing! She teases the front row, she thanks the crowd, she declares her love for Brooklyn, really making Barclays center feel like Rihanna’s personal party that you’re lucky enough to be invited to.
- Speaking of her voice, sure, she lip-syncs through most of the concert but, she’s absolutely magnetic. You don’t care what she’s doing because you just want to stare at her. She’s so damn cool and has such a mastery of her body. Confidence! Not feigned confidence or a stage persona but true confidence that commands the room.
- Those outfits! Rihanna made a total of 4 full on outfit changes, all in dark or muted mainly utility numbers. No corsetry and sparkly body suits — except for a showstopping flapper-esque Armani Privé jumpsuit—, Rihanna’s stage looks were very reminiscent of the cool girl street looks that she gravitates towards, always looking like perfection. Homegirl even sports a high fashion Adam Selman do-rag! My favorite was the 80s inspired Y/Project Suit and L.A. Roxx leather bustier worn for the finale.
Check out my video for highlights below