Belfast Telegraph

Rihanna backlash: the star who fell to Earth

By Victoria O’Hara

She came to perform three sold out dates at the Odyssey Arena but since her arrival it transformed into the Rihanna show all week - and Northern Ireland was her stage.

Dancing topless in a field, then being told to leave by an irate farmer, enjoying a fish supper in a chippy and filming in the New Lodge estate — it has been a surreal, headline-grabbing, high-profile visit.

The rumour mill started churning on Monday that the superstar was here, with reports of activity along the A2 Bangor to Belfast Road.

A passing motorist tweeted that the pop sensation was in Bangor shooting her latest video for We Found Love with Calvin Harris. It did sound far-fetched.

But the rumours soon went viral — and they were true.

Since her debut in the music scene in 2005 she has sold more than 20 million albums and 60 million singles worldwide.

Rihanna — the R&B queen — was indeed in Bangor ... who'd have thought it?

Hordes of photographers, journalists and fans descended on the muddy field owned by DUP councillor Alan Graham to try and catch a glimpse of the singer.

Traffic practically ground to a halt near Ballyrobert as drivers strained to try and spot the raunchy singer and her cavalcade.

Rihanna appeared provocatively dressed in pale-blue ripped jeans, an American flag string bikini-top and a stars and stripes denim waistcoat.

But she was about to get even more provocative as she stripped off, catching the attention of Mr Graham.

He politely asked her to leave.

In an interview, Mr Graham said he had no idea who Rihanna was but as he was fetching his tractor he thought her behaviour was “unacceptable”.

“I wish no ill will against Rihanna and her friends,” he said afterwards.

The incident attracted global attention with even celebrities commenting on who was right or wrong.

The Daily Telegraph, The Sun, Daily Mirror, Daily Mail and Times gave the incident huge coverage.

Former EastEnders star Barbara Windsor even got involved, voicing support for the the farmer.

“Of course he has a right to mind, it's his land. Most people won't agree, the majority will say ‘bloody old man',” she told the Jeremy Vine show on Radio 2.

And former X Factor judge Dannii Minogue even said it was wrong for her to strip off.

On Tuesday the mania surrounding the popstar grew.

The question now being asked in offices, homes and even the internet was: “where’s Rihanna?”

The rather unbelievable answer was “she is in a car park and then going to the New Lodge”.

That morning a bemused car park attendant stood quietly observing the activity unfold.

“This is not a usual day,” he admitted.

Waiting for her at the New Lodge estate were more than 1,000 people.

In quite surreal scenes Rihanna drove a white Trans Am car and in between takes she was mobbed by fans.

And her visit was hit with more controversey after she kept frustrated fans waiting 90 minutes at her first concert on Thursday night.

But as the boos subsided it appeared she was quickly forgiven, after she apologised via her Twitter account.

Tonight she will perform her final concert for this tour and then leave.

Since the peace process the number of famous names to travel to Northern Ireland has increased.

But very seldom has such a major star arrived, stayed |a week grabbing the province’s and worldwide headlines, and created such a frenzy.

And after this high- profile visit, when Rihanna sings What’s My Name?, it is likely everyone in Northern Ireland will now be able to answer |it — even councillor Graham.

What a week THAT was

MONDAY:

News spreads after tweet that Rihanna is in Northern Ireland filming new video We Found Love, with DJ Calvin Harris. She arrives at the farm of councillor Alan Graham outside Bangor with her entourage. Asked to leave after Mr Graham spots her stripping in his field. Later spotted eating in a Belfast chippy.

TUESDAY:

Gets hair and make-up done in a trailer in a north Belfast car park. Shoots video in New Lodge estate as more than 1,000 fans watch. Mobbed by fans.

WEDNESDAY:

Films in a closed set at the T13 skater park in the Titanic Quarter.

THURSDAY:

Performs first night of three dates at the Odyssey in front of 7,000 people. Is booed before gig after keeping fans waiting for 90 minutes

FRIDAY:

Posts apology on Twitter. Back on stage at the Odyssey.

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