x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Rihanna's Mawazine performance proves Abu Dhabi is in for a treat

UAE fans can expect a treat when Rihanna performs in Abu Dhabi on October 19. The 25-year-old RnB star opened Morocco’s Mawazine Festival on Friday night.

ihanna respected Morocco’s religious customs by jettisoning some of her more salacious tour outfits. AP
ihanna respected Morocco’s religious customs by jettisoning some of her more salacious tour outfits. AP

UAE fans can expect a treat when Rihanna performs in Abu Dhabi on October 19. The 25-year-old RnB star opened Morocco’s Mawazine Festival on Friday night.

The show - played in the capital Rabat - marked the beginning of Rihanna's international leg of the Diamond World tour. It seems tardiness is the latest fad creeping into the pop world, and Rihanna joined Justin Bieber and Madonna as part of a growing list of pop-stars who have taken their time to hit the stage.

Her one hour delay was forgiven by a crowd that ranged from families to groups of teenagers and RiRi delivered a fine set that reminded the audience that she is a singer and not just a news headline.

Rihanna's live show is nowhere near as dark and cluttered as her album Unapologetic. Perhaps Rihanna took a lesson from audience frustration towards Madonna during her MDNA tour; people go to concerts to be entertained, not to witness an emotional exorcism on stage.

RiRi ditched the menace of Unapologetic for a performance that was both slick and occasionally joyous. During the 90-minute show, split across five acts and an encore, Rihanna was friendly and chatty and her song selection touched on most of her musical milestones.

Joined by a seven-piece band and quartet of dancers, Rihanna respected Morocco’s religious customs by jettisoning some of her more salacious tour outfits. Instead, it was a uniform of black tank-top and pants with boots. Storming on to the stage with the hip-hop meets electro opener of Mother Mary, the golden haired singer - wearing a white overcoat and over-sized sun glasses - was sheer sass as she busted out raps with authority.

The attitude continued with Phresh Off The Runway and its David Guetta produced beat had the crowd well and truly moving.

The second act moved on from big beats and icy synths to a sunny reggae tinged section that explored the Barbadian singer's Caribbean roots.

Rihanna’s initially cool demeanor made way for big grins; her vocals shining on You Da One and the slinky Rude Boy. The star of the third act was the stage design. On the dubbish Jump, the four LED screens exploded into a riot of images including fireworks, barbed wire and even some wrestling before fire shot out of cannons during the chorus. Umbrella’s memorable chorus had the crowd swaying and singing along.

The pace slowed down considerably with a fourth act heavy on ballads; the show’s weakest moment. Despite the dedication to her performance, Rihanna’s thin voice betrayed her in What Now and Take a Bow.

This was rectified in a storming finale focusing of hit dance anthems S&M, Only Girl (In The World) and Don’t Stop The Music.
Diamonds closed the show on a winning note. It’s uplifting message of shedding the past and moving on seemed to have seeped into Rihanna who left he stage all smiles.

 

sasaeed@thenational.ae

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