Rihanna marks her first venture as a headlining act Aug 20th at Jiffy Lube Live – and she was onstage last Wednesday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA – part of her “Last Girl On Earth Tour.”
Swapping her commercial island pop image of the “Pon de Replay” days for the rough-around-the-edges intensity of “Hard,” Rihanna captivated the audience in her shadowy dream world for a full 90-minutes.
[photogallerylink id=30359 align=left]Undoubtedly inspired by past troubles, [lastfm]Rihanna[/lastfm] imagines a nightmarish tale as the Last Girl On Earth, backed with a pink gun-toting military with matching confetti-shooting tank, demonic stilt-walkers, a demolished car and a cage of obscurity all offering a desolate outlook as part of the elaborate set.
Paralleled with the dramatic background was Rihanna’s rock infused set list that punched up her club friendly hits with a tone of rebellious cheekiness. Adding a bit of snarl to her melodious voice, Rihanna passionately belted out her hits and commanded the stage in daring skin tight body suits, thigh high boots and futuristic outfits that rivaled those in The Matrix, while suggestively gyrating to racy hits like “Rude Boy” and “Rockstar 101.”
As if the flagrant sexuality of Rihanna’s outfits and choreography weren’t enough to keep the audience’s eyes locked on the stage, an unexpected guest appearance from rap superstar [lastfm]Eminem[/lastfm] threw the crowd into an frenzy.
Singing overtop a soft piano, Rihanna began the sweet ‘n’ biting “Love The Way You Lie” when all of a sudden, Eminem exploded from the depths of the stage to spit out his emotional rhymes before descending beneath the stage with his collaborator. Needless to say, the bewildered crowd in the Staples Center shrieked in amazement for what was, without a question, the highlight of the night.
Topping off her fiery performance with a suped up version of “Umbrella,” Rihanna had the nearly sold out crowd singing in unison to the catchy song as pink confetti from the tank prop showered the entire arena in a dazzling close.
Although Rihanna attacked a hard and heavy set, her two openers, [lastfm]Gym Class Hero[/lastfm]’s [lastfm]Travie McCoy[/lastfm] and unabashed party girl [lastfm]Ke$ha[/lastfm], rounded out the night with lighthearted, crowd pleasing tunes during their short yet satisfying sets. McCoy pleased the crowd with his wishful thinking hit “Billionaire,” and Ke$ha paraded around on stage with a charismatic energy and party anarchy that compensated for her unpolished vocals.
Rihanna and company set the standards of a summer production with a well-envisioned concept tour. Though the dark imagery and harder edge is not what most expect from the pop star, Rihanna’s artistic expression and new sense of empowerment leaves us wondering what the rock goddess will dream up next.
– Review by Brittany Bickel from KAMP Los Angeles.
– Photography by Cody Black from KROQ Los Angeles.