Advertisement
  1. Music

Rihanna brings the sin, and a touch of class, in her Tampa Bay Times Forum show

Rihanna gives close to 14,000 fans a show full of energy on Friday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Rihanna gives close to 14,000 fans a show full of energy on Friday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Published Apr. 20, 2013

TAMPA

Robyn Rihanna Fenty didn't take the stage at the Tampa Bay Times Forum until 10:13 p.m. Friday. And when she did, the Barbadian troublemaker was dressed in a monkish cloak, on her knees singing Mother Mary, praying for forgiveness. Maybe for coming on so late? More likely for the sins she was about to commit over the next two hours.

It didn't take long for RiRi to shed the cloak and further attempt at atonement. After all, it's hard to repent in thigh-high boots. Emphasis on the thigh.

The 25-year-old pop heavyweight — the biggest-selling digital artist of all time, with some 120 million singles sold worldwide — does whatever she wants, from dating Chris "Bad News" Brown to sharing her love of weed with the online world to canceling a bunch of shows on her Diamonds World Tour, including a couple of stops earlier this week.

So it was no surprise that her show was an endlessly randy, slightly dangerous affair, full of f-bombs and erupting pyro and the sort of wardrobe and gyrations that'll make you a Saturday night star at Mons Venus.

In front of 13,490 fans — most of whom were young women in perilous heels — the gorgeous singer smiled big and coolly worked through most of her new album Unapologetic, plus a healthy smattering of chart-topping hits.

Backed by a six-piece band (including guitar whiz Nuno Bettencourt, from Boston rock band Extreme) and a host of dancers, Rihanna purred (Birthday Cake) and rapped (Phresh Out the Runway) and reggae-toasted (You da One) into a live mike — although she was obviously helped by prerecorded tracks as well.

When you come to a Rihanna show, you want the full bawdy boat, and despite the fact she's still not a stellar performer, there was enough energy coming from the Greco-Roman stage with its three tiers of mobile video screens to make this night a winner. She also went through dozens of, ahem, entertaining costume changes, from leather dominatrix gear to a Day-Glo jumpsuit thingie to a red skirt-and-top combo for an Eminem-less version of Love the Way You Lie.

Rihanna has a ridiculous amount of hits, so some she gave a complete treatment (Umbrella), others she abbreviated for lack of a partner (the Drake-less What's My Name?), and others were medley'd together (S&M/Only Girl (In the World)/Don't Stop the Music/S.O.S.).

And then there was downright rave-up We Found Love, during which she almost caused a riot when she jumped into the crowd for a dance-off, at one point playfully grabbing a fan's smartphone and taking the greatest "selfie" of all time.

As the clock closed in on midnight, Rihanna encored with the spare, lovely new ballad Stay and then the feel-good, if ubiquitous, Diamonds. She started and ended her show with clean, composed, classy grace. So is she an angel or a devil? Maybe we love her because Rihanna, like the rest of us, is a little bit of both.

Sean Daly can be reached at sdaly@tampabay.com. Follow @seandalypoplife on Twitter.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. In this June 23, 2019 file photo, DaBaby performs "Sugar" at the BET Awards, at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. [CHRIS PIZZELLO  |  Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP]
    The hugely hyped rapper will take the stage in Clearwater in March.
  2. Brad Paisley performs during the CMA Music Festival at LP Field in 2014 in Nashville.
    Rascal Flatts, Lady Antebellum and Thomas Rhett round out Live Nation’s all-in-one ticket deal.
  3. Michael Bolton, left, and Akon perform on stage with the Lonely Island at the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards on Sept. 18, 2011, in Los Angeles. [MARK J. TERRILL  |  ASSOCIATED PRESS]
    This is a tale of a singer’s viral revival, straight from the pirate king himself, who sets sail for Tampa on Friday.
  4. Celine Dion performs at Amalie Arena in Tampa on Jan. 15. [JAY CRIDLIN  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    The diva’s sold-out show, her first here since 2009, showcased her iconic pipes and Vegas-honed theatricality. | Concert review
  5. The Revivalists perform during 97X Next Big Thing at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa in 2019. [JAY CRIDLIN  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Catch up on today’s Tampa Bay concert announcements.
  6. Jason Aldean accepts the award for Entertainer of the Year at the 53rd annual Academy of Country Music Awards in 2018 in Las Vegas.
    It’ll be the country superstar’s first Tampa show in three years.
  7. This combination photo shows Notorious B.I.G., who won rap artist and rap single of the year, during the annual Billboard Music Awards in New York on Dec. 6, 1995, left, and singer Whitney Houston at the BET Honors in Washington on Jan. 17, 2009. The pair will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 2020 class. (AP Photo) [AP]
    Nine Inch Nails, T. Rex, the Doobie Brothers and Depeche Mode also will join the hall’s ranks this spring.
  8. Jermaine Dupri poses for a photo on the red carpet at the grand opening of Tyler Perry Studios on Oct. 5, 2019, in Atlanta. [ELIJAH NOUVELAGE  |  Invision/AP]
    Queensryche, Branford Marsalis, Steve Aoki and an Iron Maiden side project round out the top picks.
  9. Ronnie Dunn, left, and Kix Brooks of Brooks and Dunn arrive at the 53rd annual CMA Awards on Nov. 13, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. [Evan Agostini/Invision/AP]
    The blockbuster country duo will play the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in May.
  10. British Lion, featuring Iron Maiden founder and bassist Steve Harris, will perform at the Brass Mug in Tampa on Jan. 19. [Courtesy of John McMurtrie]
    The metal legends’ founding bassist and main songwriter brings his side project, British Lion, to the Brass Mug.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement