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Review: Rihanna brings upbeat show to Abu Dhabi

The singer closed her ‘Anti World Tour’ with an energetic show at the du Arena, as part of the F1 after-race concert series

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UAE concert crowds need to kick their energy levels up a notch because on November 27 Rihanna stole the show in that department.

The singer closed her Anti World Tour at du Arena, as part of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after-race concert series, Yasalam, with a supercharged and exciting show.

The Barbadian singer, bathed in white light, kicked off the night with the sweet ballad Stay, which instantly had the crowd singing along. Her vocals didn’t wow right off the bat, and she often let the backing track take over. She swiftly moved through a medley of hits. There were some classics that served as a dose of nostalgia for fans of the artist who started her career in 2005 with the club favourite Pon de Replay, which she didn’t perform. I would have loved to see her sing If It’s Lovin’ that You Want, but maybe that’s too far of a throwback for it to be cool.

Watching Rihanna perform her upbeat hits Consideration, Run This Town and Rude Boy was thrilling as she is an excellent live performer. Thank goodness for concert projector screens because getting close-up shots of the singer laughing, dancing to herself and interacting with her band members was heart-warming.

The singer took time to dedicate Diamonds to a crew member who had died a few days before. It was a touching tribute that also showcased vocals that were earlier overshadowed by heavy beats and even heavier dancing and running around on stage — not that I’m complaining.

I will, however, complain about the majority of the crowd who stood still for some of Rihanna’s more electric songs such as Man Down, Work and All of the Lights. “Why is no one dancing?” I screamed in my head more than once.

The 28-year-old got chattier towards the end of the set and showed us what her voice could do with FourFiveSeconds, which she said is her favourite song to perform live, and the soulful bluesy closing track Love on the Brain, her favourite song on Anti.

Graciously, the singer thanked her band members, backing dancers and crew, even her “glam squad”, before exiting the stage, leaving this reporter marvelling at the genius of Rihanna.