Review: Rihanna at American Airlines Center

Posted 10:00am on Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013

Like a sports car designed expressly for the one percent, Rihanna is a high-performance machine.

Sleek, untouchable and capable of delivering satisfaction with a smile, the multi-platinum pop superstar hugs all the curves, looks fantastic while doing so, and leaves her audience screaming for more.

Such was the scene Monday night at American Airlines Center, a make-good gig after Rihanna postponed an April stop on her “Diamonds” world tour because of illness (the tour, just back from an extended European jaunt, is winding down, with only a handful of shows left).

Monday’s 100-minute set also marked Rihanna’s first appearance in Dallas since July 2011’s infamous concert cut short by a small fire in the lighting rig above the stage.

The 25-year-old Barbados native didn’t shy away from flames, however — of either the literal or figurative variety. (Among other spendy effects visible Monday, large plumes of fire spouted upward from the stage.)

With a set list split almost evenly into quarters (the raunchy bits, like Phresh Out the Runway and Birthday Cake, up front, followed by a satisfying detour into reggae, featuring Man Down and Rude Boy, with ballads, such as What Now, and the full-bore hits — We Found Love, S&M, Only Girl in the World — closing things out), Rihanna efficiently made all the turns with a minimum of fuss — and, thankfully, only a half dozen costume changes.

Backed by eight limber dancers and a six-piece band, the staging, complete with faux marble finishes and columns evoking a half-ruined coliseum, was almost old school in its approach. Sure, video screens adorned every surface and lasers and fire abounded, but the focus was largely on the performers, not the polished presentation.

In the end, Rihanna got the near-capacity AAC crowd where it wanted to go, losing its collective mind, hoisting homemade signs and twerking with abandon.

A consummate pro, Rihanna delivers intense, high octane thrills, even if, at the end of the ride, you’re left wishing for a little more humanity and a little less machine.

Preston Jones, 817-390-7713 Twitter: @prestonjones

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