STOCKHOLM, Sweden — It’s so weird how 48 hours ago feels like it happened to someone else. Mexico City is a blur. Toronto, and the wee, indie movie theater-ish venue with its punctual crowd and assigned seating, is a distant memory. We’ve been calling it Stockholm Syndrome because it’s day three of Rihanna’s 777 Tour and we’ve given ourselves fully to the bizarro circumstance of being on tour with one of the most beloved pop stars in the world.
We’re beyond bleary-eyed and foggy-headed but we may even be enjoying it by now. It helps that Sweden is one of two countries in which we’re staying in a hotel instead of pinging off to another locale immediately following the show. Thank god. Our Def Jam captors are definitely anticipating our pain thresholds since the Toronto-to-Stockholm leg means we’re on a red-eye but landing right as the sun sets. (This post was tapped out on a phone and we haven’t seen sunlight in well over a day.)
No matter. The best show yet on the tour by far has to be Stockholm. The venue, Berns, is this beautiful, palatial ballroom situation with enormous, winking chandeliers and fresco paintings of people most of us probably don’t know about. There’s a balcony and molding, and the audience was easily the most excited of the three we’ve seen so far. They were also the most fancy and fashionable: tons of tow-headed dudes in Patrick Bateman suits and tall, flaxen-haired women in body-con dresses and animal print. On the other end of the spectrum, there was this adorable kid who was wearing Yeezys, and we totally asked if they were faux (prying and rude, sure, but we had to know), but he assured us that he’d camped out for five days to score them. He only wears them on special occasions and this was definitely one of them.
Most of the kids in attendance had been glued to the radio and waited for hours at the chance to win a ticket to the show, and there’s something to be said for earned spoils because they were amped and singing along to every song.
The energy was infectious and Rihanna was clearly feeling it; she was radiating. Maybe it’s because we weaseled our way, way up into the front instead of sitting in the balcony, but the show just felt more hype all around. Rih Rih — in the best oversize denim jacket, high-waisted denim shorts, a snug white tee and a massive “Chanel” nameplate-plus-dookie-rope chain — essentially stuck to the track list from Mexico and Canada except she sang what has to be one of the best slows jam on her new album, “Stay.”
“This is only my second time singing this in public,” she reminded us. “I may be a little, uncertain, forgive me.” She could’ve dispensed with the tentative preamble because it was heartfelt and the crowd loved it. She even appeared to tear up a little and we ate it up.
There was a rumor that Kanye had landed in Sweden. And as the “Diamonds” remix featuring ’Ye had JUST been released we were hoping for a cameo, but no dice.
Another day, another phone flung into the crowd; another 1,500-odd, lucky fans losing their collective minds. Among the Rihanna press corps, we’re beginning to wonder how we’ll return to our normal lives and work weeks. The acclimation may be brutal. Who knows, though, maybe we’ll be so happy to see our own beds again that we’ll uglycry our faces off. From here it’s Paris or bust. More soon.