The Middle Eastern leg of Rihanna's "Diamonds" tour has been half sold-out stadiums, half location-themed Instagram photo shoots. She posed in some goddess drapery along the white-and-blue Mediterranean coastline of Greece, in figure-hugging Muslim dress at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi (which actually kicked her out for posing too sexy) and, just yesterday, in a liberated bikini at the Dead Sea in Israel.
But according to various reports, Rihanna's warm autumn day at the Dead Sea may have pushed into her stage time at Yarkon Park, where over 50,000 fans showed up to make it the largest concert by a female performer in Israeli history.
The Times of Israel reported that Rihanna took the stage at 10 p.m., two-and-a-half hours after the concert's 7:30 p.m. start time — although part of that included opening act GTA — and left a full 10 tracks off her planned set list.
To say the Rihanna concert in Tel Aviv was highly anticipated is a vast understatement. She's one of the most overplayed artists on the city's nightclub circuit, and posters for her shows have lined the streets for months. Tickets were going for upward of $100 at the end there. The Jerusalem Post even called her "the real mayor of Tel Aviv."
For the reporters in attendance, her stunted set was a decided letdown. Fans on Twitter offered more mixed reviews: "Yesterday was my best day of my LIFE and it's all thanks to you @rihanna!" one wrote. "I saw your performance in #TelAviv last night and it was the worst performance I ever saw in my entire life," countered another.
Rihanna apparently tried to make up for her diva entrance by shouting "TEL AVIV!!!" hella times, telling the crowd what "fucking rockstars" they were, and ending the night with a love note: "Thank you guys so much for making tonight super-duper special," she said before launching into "Diamonds," the final track. "I will never, ever forget this show, and I hope that I get to see you very soon. I had an amazing time, Tel Aviv." However, Ha'aretz reported that she did throw one controversial curveball when, in "Pour It Up," her new stripper anthem, she changed the lyrics "All I see is dollar signs” to “All I see is Palestine." Not quite BDS, but ballsy nonetheless! (Although the Jerusalem Post reporter who live-Tweeted the concert noted that "if every newspaper in the country sent ppl to the @rihanna concert & only Haaretz heard a pro-Palestinian comment, it probably didn't happen.")
Below, the Instagram photo shoot that preceded the firestorm. Hopefully Israel's favorite Barbadian learned her lesson: After a long and glamorous afternoon at the Dead Sea, it takes at least a full evening to wash off the stink.