Concert Review: LOUD Tour Electrifies Birmingham, AL

That Good Hit: Last night in Birmingham, Alabama I had the privilege of seeing Pop Superstar, Rihanna, put on an amazing show/benefit concert for the flood/tornado victims of the surrounding areas. The ‘LOUD Tour’ concert was held at BJCC arena in front of thousands of screaming fans of all ages, races, and sexes. The show was amazing!

Rihanna, who first made her splash onto the scene back in 2005, has grown from a sweet 17 year old island girl to a sexy, confident, fearless woman in just under 6 years. The ‘LOUD Tour’ is the outing for her mega-smash album, LOUD, which is already a Grammy Award winning album that boats over 4.5 million copies sold WW, and 3 #1 singles here in the US.

When I arrived at the Arena, which seats 19,000 people, I could feel the anticipation and excitement in the air. There were fans in red wigs, girls and guys dressed to perfection, and #RihannaNavy memorabilia, everywhere. As I took to my seat and looked around the arena, I saw thousands of people of all ages, sexes, sizes, races, and sexualities, the arena was about 90 to 95% packed. While waiting for Rihanna to come on stage, fans threw themselves a little party. The RihannaNavy was LIVE. Fans had literal dance-offs from across the arena. Each time a record would drop, someone from either side of the Arena would start to dance & cause mayhem. This all started all because of the young man below..


And from there, there was about 5 different people in 5 different section who had the crowd going WILD. The cutest was this little girl who had to be around 5, when they played Jay-Z’s “Can I Get A…” she began dancing for her life! Shortly after that, the Mayor of Birmingham got on the Mic to present Rihanna with a key to the city, and to recognize a few of the people from his team for making the show possible. As you can see below, even he was “Crunk!”.

Shortly after that, the lights went down & it was time for Rihanna to take over. As the show started fans started screaming, not chanting, but screaming ”RIHANNA!, RIHANNA!, RIHANNA!” and they got what they wanted, Rihanna! She came out in a sexy neon blue trench coat in high yellow & pink patten leather heels beaming of confidence, sass, and energy. She belted out “Only Girl” and seductively gyrated around as fans sang & danced along. Rihanna kept the energy up and the crowd going crazy as she performed “Disturbia” and “Shut Up & Drive”. Rihanna then went into one of my favorite songs off of her album, LOUD, and one of my favorite performances of the night, “Man Down”. Rihanna delivered the song perfectly. Her attitude, swagger, vocal control, and her Caribbean twang had me, a Jamaican, going crazy. She was in her comfort zone didn’t hold back.

The lights went down and before anyone could even think about sitting down, the LED screens began showing some beautiful recorded video which served as an interlude. It was masculine Rihanna seemingly being seduced by a sexy Rihanna. Before you knew it, Rihanna was already back on stage doing another one of my favorite performances of the night, “Darling Nikki”. During this performance, more than almost anything other song, I saw the older crowd going off. The lady behind me, who had to be in her mid-to late 30′s began screaming, “OMFG! She’s doing ‘Darling Nikki’ OMFG! YES! YES!”. Clearly, she was getting her life. Rihanna sang in what seems to be tenor range, and did it perfectly. Rihanna was dressed in a tux and seductively grinding along with her female dancers who where doing putting on a show straight out of a strip joint! Rihanna then went into another one of her many #1 singles,”S&M”. While Rihanna sounded great, the performance seemed a little awkward due to her being restrained by chains…..but that’s the point. “Chains & Whips excite me..” are the lyrics! I’d rather have her strutting around the stage or doing a bit of choreo, though, since, it is one of the most up-tempo songs of the night. Rihanna then did an old favorite from her “Music of The Sun” album, Let Me. Even though most of the crowd didn’t know the words, they stayed on their feet dancing as Rihanna strutted & danced around the stage. Rihanna then took things down with her ode to sex, “Skin”. The crowd went NUTS! the minute the music started playing. Rihanna seductively sang and danced, giving male R&B singer sexing the stage, tease. She then brought a young lady on stage & rode her…hard! The crowd screamed and chanted as Rihanna gridded and disappeared below the stage as her guitarist, Nuno, KILLED his guitar solo!

Once again, the LED screens took over as Rihanna transitioned into the next portion of the show. The crowd, noticeably the black people, went off as Rihanna’s dancers, dressed in army fatigue, began the choreography to “Raining Men”. Rihanna came out atop two pink tank cannons performing, “Raining Men”. She then went into; Hard, which was a crowd favorite, “Breaking Dishes”, her Shelia E. cover “Glamorous life” and a medley of “Run This Town” & “Live Your Life”. Rihanna WOW’d the crowd, literally, with her drum solo.

The girls behind me kept screamed with excitement as Rihanna banged out the drums. The lady next to me said “WOW! this girls got talents and plans on showing them all. Work them drums!” I was BEAMING. Rihanna ran back through the crowd high-5′ing fans, blowing kisses, and even giving one of her fans the red Alabama Crimson Tide fitted had she took from one of her bodyguards. The crowd was still on their feet screaming & cheering.

As usual, the LED screens began showing a stunning visual of Rihanna with an up-do in a red dress, slowly spinning in circles and posing. Within seconds, Rihanna was back on stage in a stunning yellow dress that blew in the winds created by 2 small fans placed just below the apparatus she stood on. Rihanna came out to one of her classic, “Unfaithful”. The crowd began screaming & singing along as Rihanna sang the song beautifully and showed off her velvety lower registry. She then walked over to a stool she sat down and sung, “Hate That I Love You”. I was standing less than 8 feet away from her, she looked amazing & sang beautifully. She continually interacted with the crowd holding the mic out, giving them high-5′s, smiling, and pointing to fans as she sang. She then went into what surprisingly was a crowd favorite, “California King Bed”. Rihanna belted out the song perfectly and the crowd sang along word for word and cheered as she disappeared, once again, below the stage.

The LED screens took things from there, clips of Rihanna’s music videos were pieced together as Rihanna’s first single, “Pon De Replay”, got everyone out their seats and dancing. Rihanna then came out in my favorite outfit of the night, and did my favorite song, “What’s My Name?”. Finally, Rihanna was dancing! She sexily & smoothly whined, dropped, and popped her way through the #1 smash single. Rihanna then went into, what was easily the 3rd favorite song of the night, “Rude Boy”. The minute the beat dropped EVERYONE began dancing. The “bible belt” got nasty! Rihanna then deviated from her normal tour setlist to do a special & surprise performance of “Sweet Home Alabama”. THE. CROWD. WENT. CRAZY! The venue literally started shaking as fans sang along and even did an impromptu wave. Watch below…

After getting the crowd hype with “Sweet Home Alabama”, Rihanna then did another surprise crowd favorite, “Cheers”. The crowd sang along & held their drinks up in the air.

Rihanna then went into another one of her major hits, “Don’t Stop The Music”, which had the crowd on their feet and dancing. After “Don’t Stop The Music”, the lights went down for a moment and Rihanna came back out wearing an Alabama Crimson Tide football jersey as performed another one of her many #1 singles, “Take A Bow”.

Rihanna sat down and talked to the crowd about how happy & honored she was to be there, she screamed “ALABAMA I GOT YOU!” and the crowd went crazy! During her performance of “Take A Bow”, Rihanna took a moment to stop, stand up, and wave at fans as her large jumbo screens showed the screaming fans waving with excitement. The the people in the crowd behind me began saying things like “Don’t go RiRi. Stay with us forever!”. People, including myself, began to get teary eyed as the song ended. We could sense the show was almost done!

The lights went down and a black Piano on a silver platform slowly lowered onto the stage of the pitch black arena. The crowd began chanting, “RIHANNA! RIHANNA! RIHANNA! RIHANNA!”. The three girls behind me started saying “She can’t be done! Come back RiRi!” & “I love her soo much!”. It was beautiful. Rihanna then came out in a silver-ish gold balon-sleeved metallic leotard and matching Louboutins. She slowly strutted onto the platform & sat down on the piano. As her pianist played, Rihanna delivered what was easily the best vocal of the night. Rihanna’s piercing falsetto notes, powerful belted notes, and emotional delivery of “Love The Way You Lie pt. 2″ was moving. Rihanna then went into her monstrous smash single “Umbrella”. I personally, wasn’t in favor of Rihanna ending the tour with this song because she had done that on her two previous tours, but, boy was I wrong. The song was the perfect way to end the show! It was moving and brought several people to tears, myself included, again. Rihanna then thanked her fans for all their support & for sticking by her through thick & thin. She then thanked her band, dancers, crew, the people of Alabama, and even the Arena’s crew for helping her live out her dream! She then slowly disappeared under the stage as her band played and the lights went up, people began to leave.

The Good: Rihanna has an extensive catalog of hits that kept everyone in the arena on their feet throughout the whole show. Whether it was an uptempo, mid-tempo, or a ballad, you were on your feet. Another great thing about the show was Rihanna’s interaction with the crowd. She stole little moments with fans to make a one on one connection, while still controlling the crowd! Also, Rihanna not only sang live the whole time, but she sounded great! She hit all her notes, minus the “SOOOOOO-OO-OO-OOO” note in “Hate That I Love You. She let the crowd do that. Her uniquely beautiful contralto voice has grown & matured so much since her “Pon De Replay” days. She showed off her lower registry, chest voice, and head voice as she sang her beautiful ballads & mid-tempo tracks. Another good thing about the Alabama show was how personalized & special the show was. Rihanna took the time to learn & perform “Sweet Home Alabama” and wore a Alabama Crimson Tide football jersey and hat. Also, Rihanna went out of her way to make sure everyone in the arena got to see her up-close. Between playing the drums towards the back of the arena, running around the arena, and working the stage itself, Rihanna kept moving. But, for me, the best thing about the show aside from seeing how much she’s grown as a performer, was how appreciative she is for all her fans & the people that support her.She’s the sweetest person ever. I swear.

The Bad: Honestly, there wasn’t anything “bad” about the show at all. But, I personally would love to see Rihanna implement a bit more choreography into her show. Songs like S&M, Hard, Raining Men, and Disturbia would be amplified to another level if she was dancing! Also, I’d like to see Rihanna show off her voice a bit more. Take those head voice notes up a bit! She has the range for it so do it!

Overall: The show was AMAZING! Rihanna controlled the stage and kept everyone on their feet at all times with her extensive catalog of hits! Her wide range of diverse sounds mixes perfectly with her wind range of diverse fans. The ‘LOUD Tour’ is one show you DO NOT wanna miss.

Grade: A

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