After causing a storm by baring (nearly) all in a Bangor barley field, Rihanna was back on more familiar terrain last night.
However, she still managed to create controversy, as her massively delayed stage appearance threatened to spoil the abundance of goodwill the Belfast crowd clearly had for one of the world’s biggest stars.
A sell-out Odyssey crowd of 7,000, mostly young women wearing heels longer than their skirts, packed into the arena for the beginning of a three-night run of Rihanna’s Loud tour.
Unfortunately they were left waiting for hours as the superstar did not take to the stage until very late, much to the anger of those present.
It had all started so brightly. Scottish DJ Calvin Harris warmed the crowd up, although they hardly needed any encouragement.
Apparently unable to play any instruments, Harris bravely improvised by seemingly playing a cassette of his favourite elevator tunes and repeatedly telling Belfast to “put your arms in the air”. He received a deafeningly positive reception — but the crowd was getting more and more restless the longer Rihanna’s arrival on stage was delayed.
Fans amused themselves for well over 90 minutes with the obligatory Mexican wave and some good old-fashioned mindless punch-ups.
Just before 10pm loud boos rang out from the masses, as there was still no sign of the elusive popstar.
Another 15 minutes with still no show and the boos became more sustained and ugly.
Finally the 23-year-old, no respect at all for reviewers’ deadlines, arrived on stage in the middle of what appeared to be a giant hamster’s wheel.
Surrounded by dancers dressed like Teletubbies she was wearing a blue raincoat and sparkly underwear.
As soon as she launched into a raucous version of Only Girl in the World the crowd’s anger immediately dissipated and Rihanna was their pop idol once more.
Clearly the superstar is enjoying Northern Ireland’s Indian summer and she wasted no time in discarding her raincoat and spent most of the night in various forms of undress.
The show itself was fine. A huge mixture of big noise, big screens, expensive props, swearing and suggestive dancing.
During Shut Up And Drive, a car appeared from underneath the stage and a number of dancers then proceeded to pretend to batter the hell out of it for no obvious reason.
It was that sort of night.
The music itself was mostly forgettable, Umbrella being a noticeable exception.
No problem with any of what happened when Rihanna did appear but the wait was unforgivable.