MySpace. Whether you love it for its networking, or have long since switched over to Facebook, it is hard to argue with the sites commitment to music and its notable role in bringing about the rise of up-and-coming independent musicians with an internet connection and a dream. MySpace is also a favorite among established artists, with many using their pages as a way to connect with their fans. Throughout the year MySpace hosts numerous free events and concerts, giving fans a chance to see their favorite musicians in a live (and often intimate) setting. One such string of concerts is The Release — MySpace Musics urban concert series that celebrates the release of albums from prominent rap and hip-hop artists.
On Thursday, December 3rd, Rihanna graced New York Citys Hammerstein Ballroom with her presence to perform a free concert for “The Release” to mark the release of her new album, Rated R. And while her setlist may have been short (a meager nine tracks spanning 35 minutes), this was more than made up for by the huge production values.
Rihanna took to the stage around 9:10 pm (ten minutes later than the scheduled 9 pm webcast start time), opening with Wait Your Turn from Rated R. The song lent itself well as the opener, for from the minute the opening lyrics of The wait is over, the wait is over rang out, the 500+ fans in attendance knew that their wait was over — their princess of hip-hop had returned.
Aside from opening with two songs off Rated R, plus playing Hard midway through her set, Rihannas Release resembled less of a release party and more of a celebration of her career. The superstar made sure to play hit after hit, including a slowed down rendition of Disturbia, off 2008s Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded. She also treated fans to Run This Town, her hit song with Kanye West and Jay-Z. And while Hova did not make a surprise guest appearance (unlike at Rihannas London show just two weeks earlier), the Barbados native more than held her own carrying the track solo.
As mentioned earlier, for a one-off show, Rihannas “Release” had huge production values. Silver mannequins (both full torsos and random limbs) were artfully placed throughout the stage, and large, climbable set pieces flanked either side. While many artists use a cloth backdrop, Rihanna had an enormous LED screen the width of the stage hanging behind her. For an all-ages show, things did seem to go more towards Rated R territory at points, such as when she began grabbing/fondling one male mannequins crotch area during Dont Stop The Music.
Rihanna closed her set with “Umbrella”, from 2007s Good Girl Gone Bad, during which more than a couple of umbrellas were opened by fans and waved in the air. But as soon as it began, it was over, and Rihanna left the stage amidst a downpour of cheers. Our princess of hip-hop had left much too soon.
Wait Your Turn
Dont Stop The Music
Take A Bow
Live Your Life
Run This Town
Photos courtesy Matt Salacuse