Rihanna as Flat Stanley?, four hours sleep, and more as Riri rocks France.
Billboard is along for the ride on Rihanna's 777 Tour, a dizzying seven-day trip around the globe that will bring the "Diamonds" hit-maker to smaller-than-usual venues in Mexico City (Nov. 14th) , Toronto (Nov. 15) , Stockholm (Nov. 16) , Paris (Nov. 17), Berlin (Nov. 18), London (Nov. 19), and NYC (Nov. 20). Follow the trip with The Juice editor Erika Ramirez (@ 3rika and @ Billboard) and check out her diary below.
DAY FOUR » 11.17.12 » PARIS
I fell asleep sitting up, during breakfast. Although it was just for a minute or so, I've never experienced that before. Sleep has become a focal point of my nightly prayer. Four hours of shut-eye within 24 hours on Rihanna's 777 tour seems to be the average among the 200 passengers. Still, we refuse to stop and grasp how tired we are, scared the realization will only deepen the bags under our eyes.
DAY ONE: MEXICO CITY
DAY TWO: TORONTO
DAY THREE: STOCKHOLM
DAY FOUR: PARIS
We're experiencing the touring life of an artist. Most of our time has been spent en route to the hotel, venue, airport every day. Meal drive-bys are the norm and city exploration is a rarity. Enduring all this simultaneously boggles my mind and makes me impressed that Rihanna's stamina seems to only strengthen -- her performances have gotten better through out the trek -- while ours' withers away.
Yes, we're experiencing the day to day life of a musician on the road. But not specifically Rihanna's. Beside's the champagne sipping on Wed. (Nov. 14), we haven't had a second glimpse of Rihanna off stage.
The frustration is palpable. Some channel it sarcastically. "She's building a blanket fort up there," said Joel Hanek of MTV News. Robbie Daw of Idolator came up with a quick solution: "'We should cut her out from the 'Unapologetic' poster and carry her around like Flat Stanley."
Some of the Rihanna Navy onboard have voiced their feelings also. During Rihanna's bartender role-playing in Stockholm on Friday night (Nov. 16) a fan expressed to the singer and her manager, Jay Brown, that some fans, including herself, feel "unappreciated" and unhappy mostly about the waiting when being trafficked from one location to another.
Brooklyn fan Farrah, who was happy to win tickets on New York radio after being hit hard by Hurricane Sandy, was told by the station that this trip would be intimate. "They told us it was going to be exclusive [with] not that many people. We were gonna go to soundcheck and be front row," Farrah said.
As for media, we're no longer asking, "What's going on?" as we did on day one, but "What is this?" I must admit that that question has been present in the forefront of my mind since being invited on the tour but I silenced it by mistakenly assuming that we'd get a feel for Rihanna's day-to-day; seeing all sides of the singer that keeps us intrigued (rebellious, feisty, and playful) both off and on stage. It's now more than halfway into the tour and the one and only thing we're sure of is what it's not.
Without Rihanna's presence, this feels like an experiment. Guess who the hamsters on the wheel are. We're here to show the world how a touring experience like this can be survived.
Days are meshing together: yesterday, I asked what day it was at least twice. The shows, each seemingly packed with more hyped fans than the one prior, have also blurred into each other. The show at Paris' Le Trianon was an exception of sorts due to technical difficulties and curfew. Despite cutting her set short, Rihanna's performance was as good as she looked. The singer experienced minor issues with her monitor and the mic stand yet she still carried on with the show as if nothing was the matter. You can't knock the girl's hustle.
Video: Rihanna live in Paris, Nov. 17, 2012.
Paris Set List:
2. "Birthday Cake (Remix)"
3. "Talk That Talk"
4. "Wait Your Turn"
5. "Man Down"
6. "Only Girl in the World"
7. "Don't Stop the Music"
10. "Take Care" snippet, "Where Have You Been"
13. "We Found Love"
Shortly after the concert, majority of the 777 crew headed over to Paris' VIP Club for an exclusive after-party. According to US Weekly, Rihanna threw the last minute party because she was "upset she didn't get to spend time" with us. Rih strutted into the club close to 3 a.m. and was then joined by Diddy, Cassie, Omarion, Pharrell, Akon and more famous friends.
After the power of night after night of music like Rihanna's French show, it may come off ungrateful to spew any words of negativity as we're globe-trotting from around North America and Europe. And, you know what, it may be. Or possibly its just the effect of the fatigue and unsettling confusion that many of us can't shake.