SECC, Glasgow, Wed 19 May
She performed the opening ‘Russian Roulette’ on a platform raised above the stage, wearing a stylised flowing black dress decorated with LED ‘veins’ spreading from her heart. Before long she’d belted out ‘Hard’ while straddling the barrel of a pink tank jutting from the side of the stage, performed ‘Shut Up and Drive’ atop a burned-out jeep in the centre of the hall (the breakdancing crash test dummy was a nice touch) and been menaced by a horde of stilt-walking cyborgs during ‘Disturbia’. There’s no doubt that Rihanna has fallen for the arena spectacular.
This event was a visual treat, albeit often a very corny one, with the pay-off being a lack of real soul. It’s not unfair to say that, following her public split with Chris Brown, an underlying survivor narrative was strong here (‘Unfaithful’ featured wire-frame machine guns pointed at the singer: ‘Fire Bomb’ was backed by images of nukes going off), but only the joyful UV club abandon of ‘Don’t Stop the Music’ and an almost mournful ‘Take a Bow’ (‘you put on quite a show... but now it’s time to go’) felt rich in honest, natural humanity.