LIVE REVIEW: Rihanna @ The ACC March 18, 2013

I spent last night sitting about 500 meters away from Rihanna in some very legit seating at the Air Canada Center, to catch her Diamonds World Tour as it stopped through Toronto and officially kicked off this year’s Canadian Music Week festivities.

I’d consider myself to be a fan of Rihanna’s music. I don’t own a single one of her records, but I think that she is an incredibly well crafted pop package with a bona fide edge and I dig that. She possesses a certain kind of sex appeal that her counterparts lack, and the girl’s put out 7 albums in 7 years, every single one of which was a hit.

I hate to so obviously pick on a pop star for not singing live or using backing tracks to fill out their sound, because when you’re putting on a production of that magnitude those things have their place, but I was still relatively surprised at how little Rihanna actually sang during last night’s performance. I don’t know if my expectations of the second best selling female singles artist of all time are simply too high, or if it just depends upon ones level of fandom, but after hitting the stage nearly an hour late, there seemed to be something so exhausting about the whole thing right from the get go.

Maybe it was that bout of flu and laryngitis that had her canceling shows in Boston and Baltimore earlier this month, or maybe it was just the fact that Toronto wasn’t necessarily a heavy hitter city on the list, I mean we’re certainly not New York or LA, but she just didn’t seem to give it last night. It was 90 minutes of barely and breathlessly accompanying her backing tracks, and sort of slow motion grooving and grinding into the choreography.

I will say that one of the best over all aspects of both Rihanna’s performance and that of her openers, New York’s A$AP Rocky, were their live bands. Having those bands out there brought a whole different dynamic to the stage, giving the songs massive stadium appeal.

Look, Rihanna is without a doubt a full-package pop star, and the reason people love her is because she throws a little dirt on it. While she did work through some 30 odd songs, including a rendition of Ginuwine’s “Pony,” mixing old with new and loosely interspersing her hits, last night was definitely a stick-to-the-script and get through it type of deal.

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