Rihanna performing her ANTi World Tour at The Ricoh Arena Coventry on Saturday 25th June 2016

Review by Kevin Cooper

It was no surprise that Rihanna’s ANTi World Tour at The Ricoh Arena Coventry last night wasn’t your normal pop show, it is unlikely that Rihanna can do anything normal.

It has been just over eleven years since a Barbados born teenager named Robyn Rihanna Fenty walked into Def Jam’s Manhattan headquarters for the first time and walked out with a six album record deal.

And Rihanna has gone from strength to strength as she currently embarks upon her marathon tour spanning 71 shows in 18 countries in support of her long delayed eighth album, ANTi. With a minimal stage set which comprised basically of two large light boxes joined by a floating piece of perspex, she has also abandoned the lasers, pyrotechnics and day glo fashions that she has adopted on her previous tours.

Instead she emerged onto a small stage in the middle of the stadium sporting something between a dressing gown and a boxer’s robe, as she warmly crooned the touching ballad Stay, from her 2012 album, Unapologetic. The crowd simply erupted as Rihanna continued with Love The Way You Lie (Part II), the brilliant duet she recorded with Eminem for 2011’s Loud.

Showcasing her six piece band, three backing singers and seventeen dancers, it was also clear that she has been working on her vocals where the improvement really showed, especially in the few numbers where she performed without a backing track. After moving onto the main stage, Rihanna delivered a rapid fire blend of tracks from the new album like Woo and Consideration, and old favourites, Pour It Up and Bitch Better Have My Money.

Amongst the numerous costume changes there were also nods to her formidable body of hip hop features, which included a medley of soaring hooks from TI’s Live Your Life, Kanye West’s All Of The Lights and Jay Z’s Run This Town. She stalked the stage from end to end for an abridged version of the 2007 smash hit that launched her, Umbrella, which you could barely hear as the stadium sized anthem of epic proportions lifted the arena into the stratosphere.

She was well into her set before anyone had even thought about sitting down, but those that did she got them back on her feet with Diamonds, Needed Me, Some Ol’ Memories and FourFiveSeconds; a song she recorded with Paul McCartney and Kanye West that would sound equally at home at either a country show or a rock concert.

She also had her moments as she delivered the X rated Sex With Me to the broody Rude Boy that took the pop superstar back to her Bayan roots.

With a show that is slick, heavily produced and choreographed down to the last move, Rihanna had the thousands of fans packed inside the Ricoh Arena purring as she strutted around the stage, offering a stage presence which plenty of her rivals will struggle to match.

Watching her last night she looked like she was having a ball and relishing every moment. The crowd absolutely loved her, and whilst there was a fight in the audience before she came onto the stage, the lady who was ejected missed a real treat.