The most impressive surprise at Rihanna's concert last night at Nassau Coliseum wasn't the arrival of Kanye West for the encores “All of the Lights” and “Run This Town,” though that was pretty big.
It was the revelation of how she has blossomed into a multifaceted artist, making the most of her voice and her arrangements.
She did pretty well with a sultry version of Prince's “Darling Nikki” and a high-energy version of Sheila E.'s “The Glamorous Life,” even pounding on the drums like Miss E. The new reggae dance break in “What's My Name?” raised the song's playfulness, while the Afrobeat-influenced guitarwork in “Rude Boy” made the song feel deeper. The added electro-funk synths in “Don't Stop the Music” raised the energy level even more.
Rihanna's delivery on “California King Bed” made the power ballad special, playing nicely off a huge guitar solo. That was a nice change of pace from the lighthearted, mostly acoustic version of “Hate That I Love You.”
The result was a show that was like a sunny day compared to the dark night of her previous “Rated R” tour. Rihanna's range of emotions and musical styles puts her miles ahead of her pal Katy Perry in concert and should keep her ahead of the ever-growing pop girl pack.
SETLIST: Only Girl (In the World) / Disturbia / Shut Up and Drive / Man Down / Darling Nikki / S&M / Let Me / Skin / Raining Men / Hard / Breakin' Dishes / Live Your Life / Unfaithful / Hate That I Love You / California King Bed / What’s My Name? / Rude Boy / Cheers (Drink to That) / Don’t Stop the Music / Take a Bow // ENCORE: All of the Lights (w/Kanye West) / Run This Town (w/Kanye West) / Umbrella
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CELEBRITIES SPOTTED: Kanye West, Heidi Klum