REVIEW: Rihanna (finally) at AAC

IMG_7809Dallas and Rihanna have had a contentious relationship in the past — a point she brought up last night when recalling (1) in the 2011 show, where a fire onstage cut her gig short and of course, (2) this year’s cancellation, which led to Monday’s make-up concert at American Airlines Center. But she worked to make sure Dallas fans got the show she intended them to have. With a solid set of hits, RiRi delivered an expectedly big concert that straddled both old school performances and a karaoke night.

After her prologue of “Mother Mary,” the show exploded big with “Phresh Off The Runway,” setting a fast and furious tone for the rest of the night. Her cadre of dancers and her band surrounded the singer in a fairly minimal, but nonetheless, creative set of architectural columns and obligatory pop-star-concert display screens. But they never allowed eyes to be taken off the star. Or she wouldn’t. And couldn’t. Rihanna seemed to strive hard to win Dallas over and the screams were likely proof she did. The energy from the opening track to “Cockiness” was a nonstop flurry of clipped hits that was both thrilling and disappointing.

Often, she would edit her songs down to (perhaps) manage a quicker flow of her 23-song pre-encore set list, but nonetheless, it felt at times like a convenient medley. This reflects Rihanna’s pop expertise. She’s become a megastar through some respectable talent but more so through a blatant use of force. Seven albums in seven years, constant tours, her new Styled to Rock show on Bravo and that relentless media display of her 777 Tour last year, Rihanna knows that she needs to punch hard to be big and that first act of last night’s show was that on huge display.

But when she stepped away from being Rihanna The Product, she had genuine, even surprising moments that revealed the star she could truly be. Although merely a set-up, her opener “Mother Mary,” with just her on the stage is her frankness about fame. A haunting track where she admitted never thought this many people / would even know my name is one of the most confessional lines in pop and her voice extended that notion through the almost-capacity crowd.

She took the crowd to church as she winded the set down with her dance hits and again, she broke from both her brand and her fuck-it-all attitude. As the first notes of “We Found Love” chimed in, the grooves burst into jams and she enveloped herself in the blasting vibes of the track followed by “S&M,” “Only Girl (In the World)” and “Where Have You Been.” If even an expected move, the suite of songs were akin to a gay dance floor times infinity.

Unfortunately, she’s a fan of the backing track and didn’t shy away from not singing — while still “singing.” As she had even on her small and mid-size venue 777 tour, she would often let the mike drop to either pose or dance in hits like “Umbrella” and “You Da One.” That disregard though was so painfully obvious in her ballads where she practically refused to belt out the majorly dramatic chorus of “What Now,” her upcoming single of Unapologetic. If last night was Rihanna-karaoke, then the entire night would have been stellar.

At 25, Rihanna controlled the stage with rebellious poise. With cameras on her at all times, she almost doesn’t have a bad angle. She’s a stunning woman and can seduce both the stage audience and the camera at the same time. Rihanna then turned that into the party girl she needed to be to wrap the audience up into the show. Although a somewhat pseudo-show at times, she won her way back into Dallas’ graces without being unapologetic (see what I did there) for previous snafus. But when she returned for her one-two punch encore of “Stay” and “Diamonds,” all was forgiven and the crowd chorus wasn’t just a sing along, it was an embrace.

2 Chainz kept the fanfare on low but was nonetheless a monster onstage. Relying on the power of tracks like “Riot” and “I’m Different,” and rousing the crowd even more with “Beez in the Trap,” Chainz’s set had the polish of a pro with the spirit of a rebel.

—  Rich Lopez

Taylor Dayne announced to perform at Black Tie

If you missed the full page ad in this week’s issue, then you might not know that singer Taylor Dayne has been added to the star-studded Black Tie Dinner that includes Modern Family‘s Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Academy Award-winner Marlee Matlin. Dayne has been added as the special musical performance of the night.

According to the press release, Dayne loves her gays. From Black Tie Dinner.

For years, Dayne has been a supporter of gay and lesbian rights, often performing at annual LGBT pride festivals, helping to make her a figure with great relevance and social significance within the LGBT community. According to Dayne, “My gay audience and followers are the most loyal and the most fun to perform for.”

Dayne is an American pop icon who has sold more than 75 million albums and singles worldwide. She has had 12 Billboard® top twenty songs, two Grammy® nominations and an American Music Award nomination. Her first single, “Tell it to My Heart,” appeared on the Hot 100 chart for 26 weeks and earned Dayne a Grammy® Award nomination for Best Pop Vocal Performance. Dayne’s top singles include “Love Will Lead You [Back],” “Prove Your Love,” and “[I'll] Always Love You.”

OK, “pop icon” might be a bit of an oversell, but seriously, those early ’90s hits like “With Every Beat of My Heart” and “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love” are pretty irresistible. Hopefully, she can squeeze them all in somehow.

—  Rich Lopez

Another gay bar patron robbed at gunpoint

The robbery occurred in this area of Travis Street near Fitzhugh Avenue, according to one of the victim’s friends who witnessed it. Dallas Voice offices are in the background.

A group of three gay men who attended the Adam Lambert concert on Tuesday night were thrilled that they also got a chance to hang out with the young pop icon when he showed up at BJ’s NXS on Fitzhugh Avenue after the concert.

But they weren’t so thrilled when one of them was robbed at gunpoint on Travis Street about a block from BJ’s — and less than a block from Dallas Voice offices — as they were returning to their car.

According to Dallas police reports, the 23-year-old victim was running down the street at about 2 a.m. because it was raining heavily. As the victim neared some  bushes, the suspect jumped out, grabbed him by the hair and slung him to the ground, putting a gun to his head. The suspect, a Latin male, was accompanied by four other Latin males who were standing near a cream-colored, four-door, older-model Cadillac.

The suspect told the victim to empty his pockets and put his hands up, police reports say. The victim gave the suspect his cell phone and chapstick, and the suspect pulled off his ring and bracelets.

When one of the victim’s two friends came running up from behind yelling at the suspects, they jumped in the car and took off.

The victim’s other friend, who’d run ahead of him at the time of the robbery, contacted Dallas Voice on Thursday. In the wake of a shooting the week before in Oak Lawn, he said he wanted to remind people to be aware and travel in numbers when visiting the gay bars. The witness said he felt like his friend may have been targeted because they were leaving a gay bar. In addition to BJ’s, Zippers and Pub Pegasus are in the immediate area. The victim’s friend noted that parking is sometimes difficult along Fitzhugh on busy nights, which is why their car was a few blocks away.

The victim’s friend said the suspects yelled at him and tried to chase him as he ran past. When he realized they were robbing his friend, he came running back. The third friend, who was running behind the victim, ran up at about the same time. As the victim’s two friends converged, the suspects took off.

The victim and his two friends quickly got in their vehicle and drove away from the area. The victim was unhurt, but his friend said it took him about 15 minutes to calm down and stop crying. They reported the crime the following morning. A Dallas police spokesman couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

“We were lucky — we are very, very lucky to be alive,” the victim’s friend said. “I think it’s important to know that it’s still going on out there.”

UPDATE: Sr. Cpl. Kevin Janse informs us that no further suspect information is available. Janse said the suspect was wearing a mask. Anyone with information about the case can call DPD at 214-670-4414.

—  John Wright

Get into the groove with MadonnaRama at the Brick

Where’s the party? Um, we know
MadonnaWhen there is a tour called MadonnaRama and the pop icon doesn’t even have to show up, well, that’s some kind of fame. DJ and remixer Ed Bailey brings the premiere theme tour to Dallas with Madge music going all night long. But will he take requests? Because we’d also love a slow dance to “Rain.”

DEETS: The Brick, 2525 Wycliff  Ave., Suite 124. 9 p.m. $20. BrickDallas.com.

—  Rich Lopez

Best bets • 09.03.10

Saturday 09.04

Where’s the party? Um, we know
When there is a tour called MadonnaRama and the pop icon doesn’t even have to show up, well, that’s some kind of fame. DJ and remixer Ed Bailey brings the premiere theme tour to Dallas with Madge music going all night long. But will he take requests? Because we’d also love a slow dance to “Rain.”

DEETS: The Brick, 2525 Wycliff  Ave., Suite 124. 9 p.m. $20. BrickDallas.com.


Sunday 09.05

These ‘Steps’ are a killer
In Patrick Barlow’s stage version of The 39 Steps, not only did he adapt a Hitchcock movie (and John Buchan novel) into a hilarious whodunit, but he also reduced the cast to four playing a magnitude of parts. We’re already out of breath.

DEETS: Stage West, 821 W. Vickery Blvd., Fort Worth. Through Sept. 26. $24–$28. StageWest.org.


Thursday 09.09

Getting down to business
If mixers are awkward and networking is intimidating, just think of it as socializing with finesse. Proprietors and professionals mix at the North Texas GLBT Chamber Business Connections Mixer this week. That means, this is your chance.

DEETS: Warwick Melrose Hotel, 3105 Oak Lawn Ave. 5:30 p.m. $5. GLBTChamber.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 3, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens