Wembley Stadium may not have been to full capacity (or anywhere near it) on Friday (June 24) night for the London date of Rihanna’s Anti World Tour, but did that stop the Bajan beauty from putting on a good show? We headed down to find out.
Rihanna’s Anti show has a sombre opening, as the star walks through the crowd to a stage in the middle of the audience, with an extended introduction of 2013 hit ‘Stay’ echoing around the stadium. Whilst opening with a ballad is unusual for a top R&B/pop act, the slow introduction teamed with the basic plain white production of the stage ensured that all eyes were on Rihanna as she belted the opening track, as well as Part II of her Eminem collaboration ‘Love The Way You Lie’.
The show properly gets underway when the star becomes suspended above the adoring crowd on a floating platform, belting a medley of ‘Woo’ and ‘Sex With Me’ – both tracks from the tour’s supporting album of the same name. By the time Rihanna has landed on the main stage, she’s already moved on to the next song, ‘Birthday Cake’, originally an interlude on 2011’s ‘Talk That Talk’ album, it was later remixed with an additional verse from ex boyfriend Chris Brown.
Whilst the crowd are very obviously excited to hear fan favourites from RiRi’s back catalogue, it becomes apparent as she rushes through ‘Unapologetic’ album tracks ‘Pour It Up’ and ‘Numb’ that the show is going far too quickly. The majority of the performances consist of one verse and one chorus, and when people are paying £75+ per ticket they’re understandably expecting more.
The first full performance of the night comes in the form of last year’s hit single ‘Bitch Better Have My Money’ and it’s only then that the show feels like it’s really kicked off. After returning from a costume change, the crowd erupts as Rihanna begins to perform popular album track ‘Consideration’ and a collaborations medley consisting of T.I.’s ‘Live Your Life’, Kanye West’s ‘All Of The Lights’, and Jay-Z’s ‘Run This Town’ – all of which Rihanna features vocals on.
Then it’s the song that everybody’s been waiting for… ‘Umbrella’. The crowd scream the lyrics back to the pop goddess as they hold their actual umbrellas up to the sky only for, again, the song to cut just as they were really getting into it. One of the only pieces of crowd interaction was before album track ‘Desperado’, when Rihanna asks if the crowd have bought her latest album (Reports suggest U.S. sales of 460 in its first week thanks to one million copies being available for free from Tidal).
After another costume change, Rihanna bounces back on stage to perform old favourites ‘Man Down’ and ‘Rude Boy’ before bursting into the current campaign’s lead single ‘Work’ which once again ramps the energy up in the stadium. ‘Work’ is the first in another series of collaborations as she then performs Drake feature ‘Take Care’ and the Calvin Harris assisted ‘We Found Love’, before covering his own hit ‘How Deep Is Your Love’.
The party theme of this set (which now contains giant colourful lit up golf balls on stage) continues with more hits, ‘Where Have You Been’ and latest release ‘Needed Me’, before she launches into Tame Impala cover ‘Same Ol’ Mistakes’ – which, by the way, sounds incredible live.
As the set reaches its end, the pace slows down back to how it started with ‘Diamonds’ and her collaboration with Kanye West and Paul McCartney ‘FourFiveSeconds’, which is an unexpected highlight. The final two tracks of the night are what Rihanna describes as her favourites from the album: ‘Love On The Brain’, and recent hit ‘Kiss It Better’.
Basic production meant that all eyes and ears were on Rihanna who continued to look stunning and hit every note perfectly throughout the hour and a half show. The setlist could have done with some switching around but every single person in the stadium looked to be having the time of their life. The constant greatest hits medleys made the show feel more like a Rihanna themed club night than a stadium show at times but, overall, Rihanna put on one hell of a good show and we’re already anticipating her return… just maybe stick to arenas from now on eh, RiRi? – ★★★★☆