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Disappointing. Listless. Lacklustre. Vulgar.
These are just some of the (tamer) terms used to describe her farce of a first South African show.
While her lyrics may inspire you to shine bright like a diamond, as her performances proved, she’s obviously not one for practising what she preaches.
Perhaps if Rihanna had marketed the event as a karaoke evening, rather than a music concert, we would have been more forgiving.
After all, between the backing tracks, her support vocalists and the increasingly disenchanted crowd desperately egging her on, there was very little actual singing required of Riri, beyond that of the shoddy slur-along variety better suited to said karaoke bars.
Forget the fact that her ticket prices were far from cheap and (as was evidenced by a group of scrawny girls in threadbare clothing breathlessly making their way into the stadium with a proud working-class mother leading the pack) that many pulled together every last penny for a night they thought would make them feel like the Only Girl in the World.
Or that, thanks to the prudent pre-planning of our astoundingly intelligent metro squad, fans spent up to three hours stuck in parking-lot-like traffic.
Rihanna’s indefensible insult was that of treating her South African followers like the idiot Cinderella step-children who should be content to feed on whatever scraps are thrown at them.
Where the likes of Los Angeles and Sydney were treated to dramatic enactments and multi-ple outfit changes (courtesy of big-name designers including Givenchy and Christian Dior), we were presented with… Riri in bedazzled peak cap and tracksuit occasionally twerking her way round the stage.
While Europeans were treated to pyrotechnics and impressive light production, we were afforded… Riri in bedazzled peak cap and tracksuit occasionally twerking her way round stage.
The managing director of Big Concerts, Justin van Wyk, dismissed the rumblings of disgruntled (former) admirers with a highly astute statement to the effect of “if music has come down to the number of costume changes, that’s ridiculous”.
Well Mr JVW, your daddy obviously still needs to teach you a thing or two about the biz: concerts are about the costume changes. And the lighting. And the sound.
It’s called showmanship. It’s what distinguishes the true professionals from the pretty little pop princesses just passing through the hall of fame.
It’s what the 67 000-strong Joburg gathering (which, incidentally, afforded Rihanna the honour of being the youngest female artist to play to a sold-out show) paid good money to witness.
If it were purely about the music, aficionados could just as easily press play on their sound system at home and save them-selves the trouble – and the expense.
So while Riri may regard us South Africans as little more than a means to add more coins to her coffers, or to boost her “African roots” street cred with insipid tweets like “Hello Mama AfRIHca” (FYI, your mama be mad at you), she would do well to remember we are among the largest of the emerging markets.
And when the ruthless world of entertainment has cast you aside for the next new thang, it’s countries like ours that you will be relying on to keep the fires of your dwindling career burning.
Just ask Bon Jovi.
LARA DE MATOS