Molson Amphitheatre, Toronto - September 22, 2007

JASON MACNEIL -- Special to Sun Media

, Last Updated: 12:55 AM ET

TORONTO -

Late Saturday evening Rihanna closed her 14-song, hour-long set at Toronto's Molson Amphitheatre. And fortunately for fans, nobody stopped the music when they could have pulled the plug.

With a rather strict curfew in effect to comply with noise bylaws, the Barbadian singer took to the stage 20 minutes late through no fault of her own. Regardless of the tardiness, the singer made a rather eye-popping impression, opening with Pon de Replay and clad in a sexy, dominatrix-like studded black leather ensemble.

Supported by four dancers and a six-piece band, the performer did a bit of choreographed dance steps during the set but relied mainly on slick, radio-friendly hooks early on with Let Me from her 2005 debut album, Music Of the Sun, and Break It Off from 2006's A Girl Like Me.

Although the near sold-out crowd took a little longer to warm up to Rihanna, much of the material from her latest album, Good Girl Gone Bad, made the set gel quite well. The slower ballad Rehab had her leaning back and belting out the closing lines, while Good Girl Gone Bad featured Rihanna sitting alongside her backing vocalists on steps in the middle of the stage design.

The performance was a production more than a concert at times, with a few costume changes and choreographed intros into songs. A good example of this was during Sell Me Candy, which had Rihanna whipping some poor (or lucky, depending on your view) invisible soul with a long leather whip. The first noticeable change from this format was for a cover of Bob Marley's Is This Love that got a very good response.

Despite finishing 30 minutes past the imposed 11 p.m. curfew with the one-two punch of Shut Up and Drive and her uber-hit Umbrella, the biggest highlight was for the catchy, dance-infused Don't Stop the Music that had many boogieing in the aisles.

Also on the bill was Senegal rapper and hip-hop star Akon, who seemed to upstage Rihanna with a very energetic, party-starting set but also figuratively put the screws to her by taking the stage 20 minutes late. He also played past his scheduled closing time even after being asked to stop.

Nonetheless, on the performance side, Akon certainly left everything he had with the crowd, including several white T-shirts that he tossed from the stage. "Don't worry, I'll be buck naked by the time the show is over," he joked after the crowd favourite Locked Up.

Whether it was the opening Cross Da Line, the groovy Shake Down or Soul Survivor, Akon had the fans in the palm of his hand even when some of the songs weren't performed in their entirety. The first big highlight was during Ghetto, which had cellphones, glow sticks and cigarette lighters held high over heads.

Other songs like Smack That, Don't Matter, the mellow Bartender and Mama Africa also brought the crowd to life as the singer went into the crowd. Most were content with a handshake or high-five while others were intent on grabbing his torso, belt buckle or items below it.


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