Strange Rihanna performed at the Xcel Energy Center, because at certain times her show lacked it.

First off, don't get me wrong. I like Rihanna. I am a fan. I like her music, I think she is beautiful and talented, but there were a few things I didn't understand.

I didn't understand the tardiness. Maybe it was the way I was raised, or just the work ethic that was instilled in me by my parents, teachers and past supervisors. Tardiness is a sign of disrespect. I've always heard that every good concert never starts on time. Let me tell you, I've been to several great concerts and they've started on time. Show time was set for 7:30. Her opening act didn't take the stage until after 8 and Rihanna didn't take the stage until almost 10. On a Sunday night with an audience filled with children who likely had school the next day and parents (mostly mothers) who had to work in the morning, she should have been on time. Money is tight for a lot of people these days and they're choosy with their entertainment dollar. They've picked your show to spend their hard earned money on. Be on time.


Joe Bielawa for Townsquare Media-St. Cloud

Another thing I didn't get: The provocative dancing -- if that's what you want to call it. Again, your audience is filled with young women and children. Why do you feel the need to slap your crotch, touch yourself, stick out your tongue and rub your boobs? You're a beautiful young lady with talent. Why do you feel the need to do that?

What’s with all of the cursing? I understand an avalanche of swear words coming out of your mouth when you get up for a drink of water in the middle of the night and step on a Lego on your way to the kitchen, but calling us mother effers over and over again is not the way to endear your audience to you. Calling everything the “S” word and repeatedly using the “eff bomb” is not what people pay to see.

I understand that she was very ill the last couple of weeks and had to cancel a few shows due to whatever that illness was, so maybe that explains her lack of energy. Her dancers were on point, but she looked a little lost. She had some energy early in the show, but she stood still during parts of Love the Way You Lie and Hate That I Love You. She also took advantage of the option to sit down during parts of the show.


Joe Bielawa for Townsquare Media-St. Cloud

I felt like she relied a little too much on her backing track. She was very focused on walking around, slapping her crotch, waving her tongue and rubbing her boobs to remember that she was supposed to sing. She would lip sync in between everything that was going on, but if you’re going to do that, wear a headset. Don’t make it obvious with a microphone.

I last saw her in 2007 when she was on tour with Kanye West and I missed her show in 2011, but I must say her show did have a much higher production value and she did show that she has learned a few things. The stage was bigger, there were more effects and far more people this time around, but Rihanna wasn’t in command of the stage and looked a little lost, so when that happened, she resorted to the gyrating.

There were two intermissions (for costume changes, no doubt an opportunity to rest a little bit and whatever else she does back stage) that were punctuated by instrumental numbers by her guitar player Nuno Bettancourt from Extreme, but it was a bit distracting and it felt like an interruption and didn’t really flow with the rest of the show. It was a lot of hardcore thug rap and then this incredibly talented guy shredding on his guitar. It just seemed very out of place.


Joe Bielawa for Townsquare Media-St. Cloud

Much to the delight of the fans, Rihanna did make her way into the audience which I thought was very brave during We Found Love but again, she was focused on skipping through the audience and not focused on hitting her notes, leaving it to her back track. Please Don’t Stop the Music is a high energy number, but her performance didn’t match the energy on the song. She did a total 180, however on Where Have You Been. It was like we were watching a Rihanna body double.

The show seemed to get a little better as it went on. It was like she either a.) Found her footing or b.) Sobered up. She ended the show with a bang, though. She sat down and did a beautiful job on Stay and the closing number Diamonds were both spectacular.

Here’s the full set list:

  1. Mother Mary
  2. Fresh Out the Runway
  3. Birthday Cake
  4. Talk that Talk
  5. Pour it Up
  6. Cockiness
  7. Numb
  8. You Da One
  9. Man Down
  10. No Love Allowed
  11. Rude Boy
  12. What’s My Name
  13. Jump
  14. Umbrella
  15. All the Lights
  16. Rockstar 101
  17. What Now
  18. Love Song
  19. Love the Way You Lie/Take A Bow/Cold Case Love
  20. Hate That I Love You
  21. We Found Love
  22. S&M /Only Girl In The World/Don't Stop the Music
  23. Where Have You Been
  24. Stay
  25. Diamonds


Joe Bielawa for Townsquare Media-St. Cloud
Joe Bielawa for Townsquare Media-St. Cloud


Joe Bielawa for Townsquare Media-St. Cloud