Concert Reviews
The hottest gigs straight from the venue to your couch

Rihanna dazzles for a New York minute (12/3)

on December 04, 2009, 5:09pm

MySpace. Whether you love it for its networking, or have long since switched over to Facebook, it is hard to argue with the site’s 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 Music’s urban concert series that celebrates the release of albums from prominent rap and hip-hop artists.

On Thursday, December 3rd, Rihanna graced New York City’s 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, Rihanna’s 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 2008’s 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 Rihanna’s London show just two weeks earlier), the Barbados native more than held her own carrying the track solo.

rihanna7 Rihanna dazzles for a New York minute (12/3)

As mentioned earlier, for a one-off show, Rihanna’s “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 mannequin’s crotch area during “Don’t Stop The Music”.

Rihanna closed her set with “Umbrella”, from 2007’s 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.

Setlist:
Wait Your Turn
Russian Roulette
Don’t Stop The Music
Take A Bow
Disturbia
Hard
Live Your Life
Run This Town
Umbrella

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Photos courtesy Matt Salacuse

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