Rihanna has accomplished so much that it's really hard to remember she's still only 25.
The Barbadian R&B-pop singer has released seven albums, including last year's "Unapologetic," and each has sold more than a million copies. She's also notched more than two dozen hit singles. Her trophy case includes seven Grammys as well as other awards.
Beyond music, she has established a second career on camera, appearing in such films as "Battleship" and TV series like "The X Factor." Then, of course, is all the controversy surrounding her personal life, which includes, but is not limited to, the public debate about her rekindled relationship with singer Chris Brown, the R&B star who assaulted her in 2009.
All that aside, Rihanna remains one of the top entertainers in the concert industry. Her 2011 Loud Tour was a solid affair, and her current trek -- the Diamonds World Tour, which touched down Saturday night at the HP Pavilion in San Jose -- is even better.
Both were equally sexy and featured compelling theatrics. What separates the two is the degree of versatility displayed. The sold-out show in San Jose, which drew some 14,500 fans, served as far better showcase for all that Rihanna has to offer.
The nearly two hour show opened in dramatic fashion, with Rihanna kneeling near the front of the stage and singing a hushed version of the new album's "Mother Mary" in an almost prayer-like fashion. It was a shockingly subdued entrance, especially for a woman known for embracing bells and whistles on stage, yet it was also quite mesmerizing -- as if we were somehow privy to a private moment.
It was the perfect opener -- the calm before the storm of big dance routines, pyrotechnics and costume changes hit.
The mood then turned on a dime, as barriers were lifted to reveal the full stage, which was initially done up to look like something out of ancient Rome, with columns forming a semicircle about the perimeter. Rihanna strutted through "Phresh Out the Runway" with gusto, even though the song -- as well as the others performed during this segment -- didn't really fit with the B.C. theme. Yet, Rihanna was "Unapologetic" about the culture clash, instead cutting right into "Birthday Cake" and other sexually charged offerings.
By this point, she was wearing thigh-high boots and a long sheer blouse over tight shorts and a bikini top. It was one of a half-dozen striking outfits that ranged from an elegant and seductive red dress, which left her midriff exposed, to a skimpy superhero leotard that could be worn while saving the world or greeting visitors at your local gentlemen's club.
Perhaps the best segment of the night was the third act, as Rihanna nicely showcased her Barbadian roots as she spiced up her songs with plenty of island flavor. Her singing was uneven for long stretches of the show, and it sure seemed like prerecorded vocals were in use, but she sounded strong on such reggae-influenced cuts as "What's My Name?" and "Rude Boy."
She played the role of classic crooner on "Love the Way You Lie (Part II)," "What Now" and a few other nice nuggets, before cranking up the dance party for "We Found Love" and other up-tempo ditties. She closed the main set with "Where Have You Been," working up a sweat in the middle of eight dancers dressed in camouflage. At least, I think there were eight dancers dressed in camouflage -- it was hard to see.
The encore was highlighted by a particularly satisfying version of "Stay," which made leaving the arena all that more difficult.
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