It wasn't an Umbrella (ella, ella, eh, eh) that Rihanna needed at her Abu Dhabi NYE concert at the Emirates Palace on Thursday; the good girl gone bad really should have brought a watch with her. Doing a countdown to the new year five minutes early kind of ruins the effect of the whole thing.
If last year's Shakira show is anything to go by, for instance, the 21-year-old singer – who ended her concert with her biggest hit (the clue is above) – should have done a decent 10-to-one countdown, wish everyone happy new year, after which the fireworks would then go off in time. What concertgoers got instead was a rather rushed "three, two, one – happy new year!" from Rihanna, followed by five minutes of nothing, and then an exciting display of fireworks finally went off. It just felt, well, out of sync.
But we're prepared to forgive and forget, because at the end of the day, the Barbadian beauty put on a fantastic concert. It's amazing how one can forget about how many hits she has released in a short period of time until you hear them all in one go.
Emerging on stage in a risqué outfit that didn't really shock anyone and shows that some international papers were making a fuss over nothing when they published stories about Rihanna having difficulty over what to wear), the singer went from hit to hit, with tunes such as Shut Up and Drive, Don't Stop the Music, and Take A Bow. Considering this is her first major concert in nearly a year, as well as her first in the region, Rihanna smartly avoided focusing on singing too many songs from her new album, Rated R. Her recent singles Russian Roulette and Hard, however, did make it to the setlist.
Definite crowd pleasers came in the form of Live Your Life (sadly sans TI), Unfaithful, Take a Bow, and Disturbia. She did give debut single Pon de Replay a miss though (she reportedly never liked that song).
Following her concert, a NYE after-party featured headline DJ Green Lantern playing a mix of R&B and hip-hop commercial tunes. The event would have been more enjoyable if there weren't hordes of teenagers running around, trying to get adults to buy 'special' beverages for them, and staging group dance offs. But in all fairness, this is probably the one night out under-16s get to enjoy past midnight, and let's face it, we've all been there when we thought we were the coolest teenagers in the world. When we weren't really.
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