Music

Rihanna

Hampden Park, Glasgow

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Lisa-Marie Ferla

Three stars

BENEATH the pyrotechnics, the sex appeal and the Calvin Harris backing beats, you’d be forgiven for not noticing what an incredible singer Rihanna is.

Which is, perhaps, why the show in support of the singer’s long-awaited eighth album starts by taking her back to basics: a slow walk through the crowd onto a raised platform, an all-white hooded outfit and a piercing, soul-baring Stay – from 2012’s Unapologetic album – pitched to melt the hardest of hearts.

It takes some voice to silence a stadium crowd, but it’s not until midway through the first of five costume-driven “acts” – as Rihanna sashays her way to the stage on a floating perspex platform during a lusty Sex With Me – that there’s even a pretence that this show is about anything else. In fact, most of the over-the-top trappings of the traditional pop concert have been dropped from the ANTI tour in favour of minimal sets, dystopian outfits (school nativity play Joseph in assless chaps was my favourite) and dancers with loose limbs and fluid moves to cover the costume changes.

It’s a set-up better suited for an indoor arena than an open-air stadium, although the Hampden crowd obliged with umbrellas in the air during a too-brief snippet of the mega-hit of the same name. Some of the subtleties of the new material got lost in the evening breeze – a towering Desperado, with its epic Wild West-inspired guitar solo being the obvious exception – while the club classics that would have filled the night were reduced to semi-stunted medleys.

Worth it for a full-throated Diamonds, against a backdrop of twinkling mobile phone lights as the sun went down, though? Absolutely.