First things first. When the BluRay for Rihanna‘s “Loud Tour Live at the 02” was released, I noticed on Amazon.com there were a lot of bad customer reviews and the complaints were regarding the sound quality. I’m not techie, and I rarely notice things like that so I went ahead and bought it. Once she got to her second song it was clear where the complaints were coming from. The audio was terribly flat, and I ended up having to turn my volume all the way up to 75 and even than there was no Pop to the sound. Everything just felt muddled together, the audience reactions her voice the band and everything was all on the same level. I would be upset, but I really don’t think this is going to be one of those concert DVD/BluRay’s I’ll watch very often.
Now we all know that I’m a big Rihanna fan and definitely support the Navy, so most of everything I’m going to say about this show comes out of love. And overall, I think as far as putting together an entertaining and engaging show Rihanna and company did a great job. The staging was excellent, the different set ups and set designs and the choreography was all done really well. “S&M” was done to a T, as was the last minute addition of “We Found Love” and several other great moments of the show. The band themselves did an awesome job of putting subtle changes to some of her hits. Namely I loved what they did with my favorite Rihanna song “What’s My Name” as well as “Don’t Stop The Music”. And the pacing of the show was great, the setlist left very few dull moments (and those moments I definitely fast forwarded through, sorry), and few great surprises (I was really surprised that she included “Breakin Dishes”).
The problem: Rihanna’s voice. We know she’s never been a powerhouse singer, but over the years she has come leaps and bounds from where she started out. Just compare this with her first Live DVD/BluRay and you’ll see the progress she’s made not only vocally but overall as a stage performer. However she’s still no Whitney or Beyonce, and she has some obvious limitations vocally. The one thing that annoyed me the most was her singing maybe 3/4 of every bar of her song. Towards the end of each little set it seemed like she sang less and less. This is fine when you are actually at the show, because for the most part as an audience member you’ll be singing along and dancing and talking and not paying that close attention to the vocals. On BluRay however, it just gets slightly pointless to watch. And, sorry RiRi I have to go there, there were two bits where she came out and tackled some of her ballads. I had to laugh when she was doing her extra runs at the end of “Hate That I Love You” because… why bother!? Nobody expects amazing vocals from her, so I don’t even know why she tried because it was slightly embarrassing. She didn’t sound terrible, it was just like… “save the vocal demonstrations for artists that have actually strong vocals!”
The great thing about Rihanna though that makes the BluRay very watchable is the fact that she clearly is enjoying herself on stage. So many shows you watch where the artist is just going through the motions, being more calculated than fun, wishing the show was over already. You don’t get that with Rihanna who smiles and gets on with her audience and is just a young girl doing what a lot of young girls wish they could do every night. If you can get over the audio shortcomings and her vocal limitations, it’s a really Fun, Entertaining show. If you are a real fan and Navy supporter I would recommend it. If you aren’t… walk on by.