NEW YORK — The crowd here was slick and enthusiastic on Tuesday night. After performing every night for the last week on her weeklong 777 Tour, Rihanna was greeted by friends and strangers, industry and fans eager to help her close the seventh and final leg of her globe-spanning run. So while the past shows were new adventures, Webster Hall had the spirit of a ticker tape parade.
Rihanna gave her Navy more of her voice at this show, and it was a good look on her. Among the crew of 150-odd journalists traveling with the star, backing tracks had been a constant cause for concern, but for her last hurrah, the 24-year-old truly sang more of the set than she collectively sang for the entire tour. Needless to say, it was a better, more energetic set than any of the six that preceded it. Rihanna’s voice is a good one; she should really let her fans here it more often, or, ideally, always.
As the opening bars of “Run This Town” played, there was a distinct feeling of something holy in the air. With rumors of an appearance by the one and only Hov, the crowd was curious as to just when (and, frankly, if) Jay-Z would appear. This had been a week marked by unfulfilled promises but still, the prospect of an appearance by her Roc Nation boss was too good not to believe.
As the “Run This Town” interlude came to a close, fans throughout the hall threw up their “Roc” diamonds, while others peered up at the balcony area where word had spread that Jay was taking in the show. After Rih wrapped “All of the Lights,” the crowd began to chant ’Hova, Hova.’ ” But with the opening bars of “Stay” beginning in the room, their incantation was rendered unsuccessful.
“Stay” was a showstopper on every 777 date, but on Tuesday night it was all the better for the fact that consistent singing had Rihanna’s voice warmed to pristine, and it made this travel-weary writer feel better about the whole operation.
For the so-called Rihanna 150, diamonds have become something of a theme with the hash tag #shinebrightlikeadiamond permeating our tweets, emails and texts to one another. Hearing it sung for real one last time on this unique journey was cathartic. Much has been made of the press corps’ lack of access to the star, and this final show helped to make up for a lot of the frustration we felt throughout the weeks, across the many countries.
The show’s traditional closer, “Umbrella,” brought yet another opportunity for the great Jay-Z to take the stage, but as choruses one and two passed without an appearance, it began to feel hopeless. On Tuesday morning’s mid-landing press conference, Rihanna had given reassurance that the NYC show “would make it all worth it,” and while it was arguably the best show of the entire tour, she may not have delivered on such a grand promise.
As “We Found Love” began, the smoke and glitter exploded from the stage, and fans began stomping and screaming along. And despite the fact that the show had been more or less the same as the others (albeit about a million times stronger), the cluster of #777Tour survivors realized that, as corny as it is, we found love in a hopeless place. We found love, and it was on the Rihanna Plane.
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