Rihanna's epic 777 tour is more than halfway through now . . . and ELLE's intrepid reporter Mark Ellen is embedded with team Riri.
Here is his latest dispatch from day six on the road, as twitter reports and internet rumours of a revolt on the plane, our reporter has the full story from Berlin.
The now delightfully chaotic Rihanna 777 airbus landed at London’s Stanstead airport around six this morning after tour personnel from First Class had to venture down from the sharp end to quell a riot.
Seated back in economy, the press corps had suddenly lost it, fuelled by an uprising among the fans seated in the murky recesses of the back of the plane behind them. About 50 hardcore members of the Rihanna Navy from all over the globe had won competitions for a seat on the 777 private jet that left Los Angeles for Mexico City on Wednesday, flying on to Toronto, Stockholm, Paris and Berlin, the star of the show playing a concert in each country each night.
Assuming at some brief instant in the seven-day jaunt they would get to actually meet Rihanna and have a photo taken with her, the aggrieved fans sparked an uprising that soon spread to the writers, bloggers, TV, radio and video crews to the centre of the fuselage.
This press contingent were equally hacked off. Many had been promised an interview with the girl but had seen her only once off-stage when she’d strolled down the aisles on the flight to Mexico to tip out a few gold bottles of Ace Of Spades champagne. They felt starved of the kind of access allowed to a select handful of titles like Elle seated ahead of them in Premium Economy (pretty nice actually: more leg room, power sockets, iPhone chargers etc: get *in*!).
Anyway, someone old enough to remember the print union strikes of the mid-‘80s started up a chant of “Save Our Jobs! Save Our Jobs!”. Which soon turned into “Just one quote! Just one quote!” and raucous cries of “Tweet! Tweet! Tweet! Tweet!” accompanied by the rhythmic banging of tray tables. Noting Rihanna’s netted top at the Berlin show featured a giant marijuana leaf, one wag from European radio began chanting “We’ve got weed! We’ve got weed!” in the hope of luring her down to the cheaper seats.
And then it happened. In a selfless bid to provide some sizzling raw material for the press hordes to write about, an Aussie hack and Michael Hutchence lookalike called Tim nipped into a mid-plane toilet cubicle and re-emerged to display his impressive all-over tan by sprinting round the aircraft stark naked amid a forest of flashing phones and TV cameras. He sank back in his seat, clothes back on, to find he himself hailed as a hero, offered gallons of booze and labelled “the second biggest celebrity on board”. Hilarious. Wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
Some of good burghers of Berlin however missed her completely, heading home after a four and half hour wait without hearing a note of her show at E-Werk, a concrete barn round the corner from Checkpoint Charlie. Scheduled to appear at 8pm, she finally took the stage at 11.45 by which time some of her audience had started booing or walking back into the rain in Leipziger Strasse.
At half 11 we were still down in the dressing-rooms, the band tuned and ready to go but the only occupant of Rihanna’s black-with-a-pink-accent bunker was still just a lone scented candle. She arrived with her posse of managers and minders, swept up across to the venue and they began their nightly ritual of The Prayer, the signal that she’s officially ready to take the stage.
Once again, highly religious bass player and musical director Adam Blackstone arranged the musicians in a huddle and lead the chant: “Dear Lord, bless this band, bless every beat of its drum, every note it sings, every chord it plays. Bless every instrument and the noise it makes. We love you, God. Seven-Seven-Seven! BERLIIIIIIN!!” And they took the stage only to discover that Ri still fancied another two whole minutes drifting about in the wings.
But out she eventually came in her black mesh top with its white marijuana leaf print, and thigh-high black leather boots, a white satin coat and leather shorts (I saw her Costume designer Adam Selman later, incidentally who confirmed the face on last night’s red silk street-art graphic print T-shirt by Givenchy was “The Madonna. Not *Madonna* but *The* Madonna from an early religious painting”).
The Berlin show got fabulously brash and deafening versions of the following - Cockiness (Love It), Birthday Cake, Talk That Talk, Wait Your Turn, Man Down, Only Girl (In The World), Please Don't Stop The Music, S&M, Unfaithful, Take A Bow, Hate That I Love You, Take Care, Where Have You Been, Run This Town, All Of The Lights, Stay and – the firework and glitter big finale - Diamonds, Umbrella and We Found Love.
She patted her face with black towels in the tropical heat. “Woah, it’s HOT in here! What’s the German for hot?”
Tonight London, tomorrow New York.