Aidin Vaziri | The “Anti” tour is Rihanna’s attempt at understatement. At a stop at the SAP Center in San Jose on Friday, May 6, the 28-year-old Barbadian singer, known for her racy Instragram posts and raunchy pop hits, opened the concert not with one of her many club bangers but the mournful piano ballad “Stay.” as she stood draped in an oversize canvas hoodie atop a bare white platform in the middle of the arena floor.
The no-frills performance — simple, unflashy and oddly impersonal — set the tone for the show, which was largely marked by its beige hues and disjointed mood. It was one of two weekend Bay Area stops for the megastar, who also performed at Oracle Arena in Oakland on Saturday, May 7.
Rihanna, who made her appearance 30 minutes after her set’s scheduled start time, also made a vague reference to some backstage troubles but promised the sold-out room, “I’m going to do my best to make it up to you all.”
She may have, but from the crowd it felt like the multiplatinum-selling singer, who recently broke the Beatles’ record as the artist who has spent the most weeks at the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100, had trouble finding her place during the 90-minute set. Her approach of cramming in two dozen songs while relegating some of her biggest singles into quick-fire medleys felt businesslike, almost cruel.