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Lewd and proud: How Rihanna brought the moves and sexuality of the Caribbean dancehall to leafy Twickenham

by Donna McConnell  

Appearing on stage to song Phresh Off The Runway just before 9pm, Rihanna didn’t keep the audience waiting too long – unlike the killer lines at the toilets in the stadium. Dressed in Riccardo Tisci’s baroque style ‘batty rider’ shorts with a matching cloak of invincibility it was soon very clear that Rihanna was not going to struggle to project her personality in that huge space. Rihanna announced after the first song: ‘What’s up London? Are you enjoying yourself? Well good, we are only getting f**king started.’   Racy! Rihanna didn’t hold back as she performed at London’s Twickenham Stadium on Saturday night, despite having her parents and brothers in the audience   Hold on tight! Rihanna didn’t hold back as she performed at London’s Twickenham Stadium on Saturday night    

The girl from Barbados soon broke out her signature moves, the gyrations seen in the dancehalls and carnivals of the Caribbean. Complete with dancehall queen crotch-grabbing and slapping, the uber-sexual singer who has enjoyed massive worldwide success since moving to the US as a 16-year-old seeking success, rattled through three of her hottest numbers; Phresh Off The Runway, Birthday Cake, and Pour It Up as she kicked off her stadium show.  

Like the dancehall and carnival queens of the Caribbean, Rihanna is very aware of her sexual power – onstage at least. She constantly thrusted and wined and touched herself in a fashion instantly recognisable to those familiar with Jamaican dancehall culture – but admittedly it might have proved confusing to some of the younger members of the audience.     Rihanna displayed an effortless rhythm and sensuality that completely worked with her music, and entranced the audience. Songs such as Say My Name and Rude Boy were grinded out on stage, and thankfully she had a very well rehearsed band featuring Nuno Bettencourt, best known for his role as the lead guitarist of rock band Extreme to give things an extra gear.   Bad gal: The 25-year-old singer certainly didn’t seem to be on her best behaviour, and instead put on a particularly racy display involving plenty of crotch-grabbing and swearing   Bad gal: The singer certainly didn’t seem to be on her best behaviour, and instead put on a particularly racy display involving plenty of crotch-grabbing and swearing.

And a troupe of dancers that let’s face it, nobody was watching, as all eyes were on Miss Robyn Fenty as she popped her booty and dipped it low.   It’s that mix of Caribbean swagger and pop music that gives Rihanna her edge and realising where her strengths lie, she certainly plays to them. Not many Caribbean girls make it to be global pop stars. Rihanna has much in common with Jamaican born Grace Jones who came before her. She is fearless, lewd at times, foulmouthed, edgy and a fashion trendsetter. Strutting her stuff: The Diamonds singer opted for a sexy ensemble for her performance, teaming thigh-high leather boots with a sheer top and a visible bra     While her oversharing on Instagram can be wearing, as a performer she has come of age.  Twickenham was like a mini-carnival as fans and even grown men attempted to copy the carnival queen’s gyrations while dancing in the crowd. Vocally she represented, and has certainly improved since the Loud Tour.  

Her joy at performing to a sell-out crowd at Twickenham Stadium was touching and she brought her whole family to see her upgrade to the big time asking the crowd to say her name which she said would make her mother cry. She might also have cried at her daughter’s potty mouth too. The ascendance of her career comes at a time when she has been through the emotional mill due to her rekindling of doomed relationship with Chris Brown, who now appears to have rather publicly returned to his ex-girlfriend Karreuche Tran.  

During song Talk That Talk when Rihanna sang the line ‘And you will never get a girl like me’ perhaps in reference to Brown she added a very loud: ‘Oh hell no!’ Working it! Evidently not at all bothered by her family members in the audience, the pop superstar writhed around on stage in a particularly racy display Working it! Rihanna put on a performance that felt like a carnival.      

Rihanna’s visit comes a few weeks after pop behemoth Beyonce hit the UK. Beyonce had a huge, tightly rehearsed and professional show, and there’s no doubting her work ethic and skill. But what Rihanna lacks in routines she makes up for in mere presence, moves you can actually copy and use on the dancefloor and that onstage sensuality beloved by all her fans. The concert concluded with her biggest hits Only Girl in the World, Where Have You Been, We Found Love, and ballads Stay and Diamonds. At 25 Rihanna is selling out stadiums, cranking out hits and still has some years to go before she has to put down the batty riders. A charmed life indeed.  

[from Daily Mail Online,16 June 2013]

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