Last time we saw Rihanna play live, it was perfectly alright. The songs were there, the staging was moderately fun, the only problem was that the popstar herself seemed a little 'dead behind the eyes'.
Last night it was like seeing a different woman. Launching her fourth album, 'Rated R', the short sponsored gig at Brixton Academy was full of dark, dramatic music with even hits like 'Disturbia' transformed into new enraged versions. Heavy on the distorted guitars and drums, the show opened with Rihanna in a studded eye mask and leotard on an apocalyptic stage covered in broken mannequins and televisions.
The dramatic 'Wait Your Turn' and chilling new single 'Russian Roulette' immediately showed a new strength in our favourite Barbadian's voice which in the past has often come across as a bit thin. Young Jeezy was on hand to help out on 'Hard', but the not so surprise guest everyone was waiting for was yet to come. After a slimmed down version of 'Live Your Life', the stage was busted by none other than Jay-Z fresh from a starring role over at the O2 during his wife's Sunday gig. Together the legend and his protegee bounced about the stage whipping the crowd up into a screaming mess for the mighty 'Run This Town' before launching into an emotional 'Umbrella'. As the audience stuck up their umbrellas, it felt like we were witnessing the change from a very good pop star into a superstar. It might have taken something horrible happening, but Rihanna now knows exactly who she is. And we love her.