Rihanna sparkles on Wearside

by Stuart Vose

Superstar dazzles the Stadium of Light.

“All I've been hearing on the internet, on Twitter, on Facebook, is 'Sunderland, Sunderland, Sunderland'! Are you ready?”

The excitement and anticipation surrounding Rihanna's visit to the Stadium of Light wasn't lost on the woman herself as she stepped on stage in front of the biggest ever concert crowd at the home of the Black Cats.

More than 55,000 concert-goers saw the place packed to the rafters for the second in a series of three summer concerts.

The 25-year-old didn't disappoint, showing just why she has eight albums to her name already and has sold more than 100 million records. She will play a total of 94 nights across five continents on her current Diamonds World Tour.

US outfit GTA did an admirable job of warming up the crowd before making way for French dance star David Guetta.

Guetta excelled in his supporting role, reeling off a string of hits which plunged the crowd – already needing little encouragement - into a definite party mood.

With big tracks like Titanium and Without You, Guetta is undoubtedly a star in his own right – six million album sales underline the point - but it was the Bajan songstress who stole the show with a powerful performance.

From the first note to the last, Rihanna kept the huge crowd were in raptures, with her band taking the limelight on several occasions their part during the necessary costume changes to keep proceedings humming along.

All the hits were there – 'S&M', 'Rude Boy', 'What's My Name' and many more, while 'Umbrella' ironically popped up as the rain began to fall.

A well put together medley ushered in a quieter, more intimate spell before the intensity was cranked up once again.

Perhaps the most memorable moment of the night was the rendition of 'We Found Love' as darkness descended on the Stadium of Light.

It seemed as if the roof was going to lift off as 55,000 people put their hands skywards amidst a sea of camera flashes.

The hits kept on rolling in a strong finish as Rihanna showed just why she's considered amongst the world's top female music stars.

“I love your energy, Sunderland,” Rihanna told the crowd as she headed down the runway for the final song, Diamonds, following a soaring performance of hit Stay.

The appreciation certainly ran both ways judging by the reaction at the end as the superstar waved goodbye to Wearside.