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Rihanna gets LOUD at New Jersey's Izod Center with surprise guest Jay-Z: EW's live review

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Rihanna
Kevin Mazur/WireImage.com

Last night, Rihanna and her LOUD  Tour stopped at New Jersey’s Izod Center.

The red-headed pop vixen packed the venue, running through about two hours worth of hit records, starting with “Only Girl (In the World)” and capping things off with fan favorite “Umbrella.”

A Rihanna show feels less like a traditional concert and more like a party. There were hot girls and a goofy pillow fight, and nothing felt overdone or too planned. There were a few choreographed dance sequences, but she mostly spent the evening shimmying, winding, and skipping along.

As opposed to giving the standard review, I’m opting to break it down into three categories: Sex, Singing, and the Surprise. After the jump, find out how naughty Rihanna got, if her island-coated vocals were any good, and how ape-nuts the crowd went when she brought out rap titan Jay-Z.

Sex – Rihanna doesn’t need much time to get comfy up there. Approximately 90 seconds into “Only Girl (In the World)”—her first song, mind you—she hit us with a crotch grab. Bam! That was only the beginning. During “S&M” Rihanna broke out feathered handcuffs for some restraining fun in a black latex unitard. Then she got a little rough, shoving a lucky fan flat on his back and grinding on him to the bedroom sounds of “Skin.” Wish you went to this show yet?

Singing – She’s no Beyoncé. Let’s be clear about that. But Rihanna can hold her own on the microphone live. Solid goes at “Unfaithful,” “Hate That I Love You,” and “California Kind Bed” revealed that she’s no slouch in the vocal department, putting the needed oomph into all her ballads with impassioned runs.

Surprise! – Before I get into the epic entrance Mr. Z made, I have a question: How could any Rihanna “fan” come to her concert and leave before she performs “Umbrella”? You know, the biggest song of her career? Some dimwitted unlucky folks—possibly trying to beat after-show traffic—left, assuming the concert was coming to a close. But for a major pop act like Rihanna, know that it’s not over until she says so.

The intro for “Run This Town,” her 2009 collaboration with Jay-Z rang from the speakers as some were heading for the exits. And then the man himself rose from beneath the stage. It must be noted that I’ve never seen a rapper garner the kind of cheers, squeals, and whistles Jay got before he even starting to rhyme. His presence—still, face down, and mostly hidden by the brim of his Yankees cap—stole the show itself. This was Michael Jackson type stuff. Watch it here:

Anyways, he killed it with Rihanna, who seemed happy to be his sidekick. “Town” led to the closer, “Umbrella.” After Jay kicked his verse on it, Rihanna finished strong and showered the crowd with confetti. Those final 10 minutes surely were worthy of bumper-to-bumper gridlock.

Have you been to a Rihanna concert before? Plan on it now? Let us know.

More Rihanna on EW.com:

Rihanna kills rapist in ‘Man Down’ video, Parent Television Council cries foul, and the pop star snaps back: Who’s right here?

Cee Lo leaves Rihanna’s LOUD tour

Rihanna at Madison Square Garden: The Barbadian star brings her army tank, Mickey Mouse ears, and catsuit to New York City