Pon De Runway

"WHEEEEERE," Rihanna once asked, "HAAAAAAAVE YOOUU BEEEEEN?" Seven countries, as it happens, in seven days, as Popjustice joins Rihanna - and the world's media - on a specially-chartered 777. Absurd.

Tuesday: New York, 04:42pm

We actually had some time to mooch about New York today and while Rihanna did an album signing at Best Buy (we thought about popping along but the queue was huge, with fans apparently waiting since 6am for the chance to have a bit of a chat with her (mind you, we’ve been on a plane with her for seven days in the hope of doing the same)). We decided to visit One Direction world instead!

It’s basically a slightly unofficial looking pop-up shop thing near Madison Square Garden that sells a lot of 1D tat.

Inside it’s also full of delightful poetry such as this.

And this. :(

And in no way does it try and exploit fans by charging shitloads for ridiculous things like a onesie.

Tuesday: New York, 12:05am

So here we are, the final ‘gig’ of what has been a completely ludicrous week of frustrated waiting around, amazing shows and an allusive popstar who does exactly what she wants to do, even when a plane load of the world’s media have turned feral.

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It was rumoured there would be guests tonight but to be honest she doesn’t really need them. As much as everyone was banging on about access and all that boring stuff, the fact remains Rihanna knows how to deliver a fair number of hits to a crowd that genuinely want her to be amazing. More often than not, she really was.

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Tuesday: New York, 2:12pm

We mentioned in the previous post that Rihanna has said some things to some people just before we landed in New York and a kindly gentleman by the name of Marcus has transcribed said interview. We’ve decided to dump some of the best quotes below.

That’s journalism right there.

  • “This has been an experience every day – my sleeping was all done on on this plane. I didn’t get to spend as much time as I would have liked with you guys. I know you’re tired as well.”
  • “Thank you everybody for making this trip the shit, honestly.”
  • “I would do it again, but I’d sit back here so I can see the naked Australian next time.”
  • “Tonight’s going go be the shit. It’s the night everything is going to pay off on, everything this week. I have friends that want to be performing so I’m going to throw a couple things in there.”
  • “I have to pay attention to myself. I can’t just go and go and go. This time I had to sleep. Usually I would be back here partying my balls off, but this time I really had to pay attention, take care of my health. We’re on a plane all the time. So many people; no rest, no voice, seven shows in a row. So I tried to get as much sleep as I could.”
  • “The hardest part…I guess trying to balance being a host and being a performer at the same time. I need to do my show and then shut up until the next show and then in two hours we have to fly and sleep. But I really wanted to hang out and interact with everybody and give everybody some of my time. I guess it was difficult, it was hard to be able to do that.”
Tuesday: New York, 11:28am

Guess who showed up on the plane?

(Clue: Rihanna)

Here’s proof.

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She finally answered some questions but it was about five minutes before we were due to land so we didn’t really get to hear what she was saying, apols. She seemed to have enjoyed the tour and said London was the best show so far.

Before she graced us with her presence, her band performed some acoustic songs at the front of the economy section. These included a heartrending version of Crazy In Love.

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Tuesday: London, 08:46am

This has been passed around the plane this morning.

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‘LOL’.

Tuesday: London, 05:23am

There are a lot of exciting things attached to touring: seeing the world, glamorous afterparties, posh hotels, Alexandra Burke.

Sometimes, however, it involves sitting on the floor of a departure lounge in Stanstead airport at 5:23am.

Still, at least we don’t have a seven hour flight ahead of us.

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Tuesday: London, 12:56am

The ‘gig’ is over. We’re now waiting for a flight to New York in the Grosvenor hotel.

They’ve got a wood fire, which is quite swanky.

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We’re due to fly out at 7am, but who knows when we’ll actually get going. Only one more show to go.

Monday: London, 10:49pm

You’re probably watching tonight’s ‘gig’ on YouTube anyway but here’s someone you might not have seen for a while.

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We had a quick chat – she understands the rigours of Rihanna’s schedule and was looking forward to reading the write ups of the tour, so that’s good to know.

Monday: London, 4:17pm

Apparently when Rihanna first got on the flight from LA to Mexico on Tuesday she was told to pass straight through to the front of the plane. Instead she immediately took herself on a wander among the fans and journalists, posing for photos and chatting to people. Basically, she did what she wanted to do when she wanted to do it.

Later, when she wanted to hang around the luggage carousel and chat to fans, she did, and when she wanted to be rushed through security or keep people waiting on the plane before take-off then she did that too. This has been the theme of this ridiculous 777 thing: if Rihanna doesn’t want to do something then she won’t. If she wants to show up on stage in Stockholm or Berlin two hours late then there’s not a lot anyone can do about it.  (In fact when we were taken backstage yesterday someone asked one of her band members when she was due on stage that night and he just laughed and said “I have no idea”.)

It’s interesting that when she’s late all seems to be forgiven when she does turn up, or at least when ‘We Found Love’ starts. You suspect that if she were to take a wander around the plane tonight for the trip to New York she’d be forgiven for all the problems lots of the media have been moaning about.

There are moments of course when you wish someone in her management team or record label would just tell her she has to do something – one of the promised press conferences, perhaps – but at the same time this whole ‘777 tour turns into anarchy’ thing fits perfectly with her rude girl popstar persona. The footage of various members of the media turning feral during last night’s flight from Berlin (which was somewhat pre-empted by a lot of people reading this Gawker piece about the plane turning into something out of Lord Of The Flies, and that then becoming true) slots into Rihanna’s confusing, complicated and sometimes infuriating ‘brand values’.

It’s ‘interesting’ too of course that the album is out worldwide today and today also happens to be when people who weren’t on the trip have started writing about it. While some have said the trip itself has become the story, it’s really still all about Rihanna. If only there was some clue as to her prevailing mood somewhere on the new album.

Monday: London, 04:26am

A strange mix of alcohol, lack of sleep and impatience at the fact that Rihanna’s failed to walk around the plane since LA – and hasn’t held a press conference in any country we’ve been to – madefor a slightly odd hour-long flight into London.

Firstly there was a streaker running around the cabin, then a chant of “RiRi RiRi” before “just one quote! Just one quote” echoed about as everyone with a TV camera pushed towards the front of the plane.

As people were instructed to take their seats, the air stewardesses then decided to bring out a bottle of cognac, which didn’t seem to help to be honest.

Still, we’re finally in London now for some sleep.

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Monday: Berlin, 12:46am

Oh dear. The patience displayed by Stockholm doesn’t really extend to Berlin, with fans starting to boo as the clock ticks towards 11:30. “Excuse me woman, check your fucking watch” bellows one fan as Jessie J’s ‘Domino’ blares out of the speakers.

11:35 and she’s onstage sporting a marijuana leaf dress and to be honest no one seems to give a shit about her being late anymore. Rihanna’s European education continues too with a quick German lesson. “What’s ‘hot’ in German?” she asks. “Heist? Okay cool”.

Among the journalists there’s a definite sense of people on the brink of madness, which results in some fairly energetic dance moves among an oddly subdued German crowd.

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Sunday: Berlin, 7:36pm

We’ve been allowed to have a wander about backstage, which is quite exciting.

Here’s Rihanna’s microphone (it’s the gold one, obviously).

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Rihanna’s chocolate stash.

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It may look like this woman is setting fire to someone’s shirt but she’s actually steaming it. Little industry secret there.

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And here’s Rihanna’s dressing room. Swanky. It smelt like heaven.

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Please note Rihanna’s love of Shreddies and what looks like an Argos kettle.

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Haribo Starmix, anyone?

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Sunday: Berlin, 7:12pm

We got to the front!

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(For the soundcheck Rihanna isn’t at)

Sunday: Berlin, 6:39pm

We’re at E-Werk, an old power plant, for some food before watching some musicians tune their instruments.

This is what it looks like from the outside.

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Here’s a poster.

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Look what we stole!

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Pudding.

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Sunday: Berlin, 5:06pm

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We’ve arrived in a slightly chilly Berlin after a refreshingly short flight (1 hour 10 minutes, time fans) and now we’re off to the venue for some backstage ‘action’. Rihanna won’t be there.

While waiting at the venue we noticed a pop motif from a year or so ago.

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Sunday: Paris, 1:51pm

Our original call time at the hotel was 7:45 this morning, which thankfully was then moved to 9:45.

It’s now 13:51 and we’re all sitting on the plane. Kevin ‘Pop Prince’ Hughes has joined us for the next few stops, which is nice.

Anyway, the reason we’re not going anywhere is because Rihanna’s still at her hotel. :(

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Sunday: Paris, 04:15am

So, against all the odds, Rihanna showed up to the after party at the world’s worst club with Cassie, P Diddy, Pharrell, Akon (and Omarion) at about 3am.

We didn’t really know what was happening to be quite honest and tried to get to the loo when these two walked past.

While Rihanna’s not a massive fan of clubs playing her songs – she asked the DJ to stop focusing on her back catalogue after ‘Diamonds’ and then ‘Where Have You Been’ blared out – Akon absolutely loves it, looking very excited as everyone danced about to ‘Sexy Chick’.

Rihanna seemed to be having a nice time, despite the hundreds of camera phones about an inch from her face. Here she is enjoying some champagne from a bottle with a glow in the dark label.

Sunday: Paris, 12:41pm

Travel update: We’re stuck in the airport in Paris. It’s raining. Everyone’s feeling slightly delicate.

Next up, Berlin!

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Sunday: Paris, 12:48am

We assumed the afterparty might be at the Moulin Rouge given that it’s just down the road from the venue. Instead we’re at a club that looks like this.

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For some reason a person is walking around dressed as a turtle. Perhaps it’s Rihanna in disguise? Probably not let’s be honest.

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Saturday: Paris, 10:32pm

There’s no repeat of the Stockholm 11:30 stage time fiasco due to a strict 10:30 curfew so Rihanna just cuts two sections from the show. Those bits are the acoustic strumalongs and the collaborations bit featuring Run This Town.

There’s an amazing bit where he asks the crowd what ‘one’ is in French. After a deafening “une” she then looks blank and says, “yeah, that”.

After a still completely euphoric sounding ‘We Found Love’ she’s gone for another night.

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Bonus fact: the man that passes her the mic stand very night is called Larry.

About this blog
Pon De Runway tracks Rihanna's 777 tour, most of which is taking place on a bloody JUMBO JET on which Rihanna and over a hundred of the world's media live for seven days, visiting seven countries. Leaving on November 13, we fly to LA then to Mexico City (November 14), Toronto (15), Stockholm (16), Paris (17), Berlin (18), London (19) then New York (20), then back to London. It's all in aid of new album 'Unapologetic', which is Rihanna's seventh album, hence all the 7 business. You can email us on ponderunway@popjustice.com while we're 'on the road' (in the air) if you like.