Rihanna

Rihanna's Musical Director on 777 Tour: "We Got a Couple of Surprises Up Our Sleeve"

Adam Blackstone on setting up the unprecedented tour and working with the "real" Rihanna
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Mark Loucks for Fuse

We've only seen the Mexico City and Toronto legs of Rihanna's 777 tour, but for each performance, both the singer and band appeared loose, limber and unafraid to play with the conventional structure of the singer's biggest hits. According to Adam Blackstone, Rihanna's bassist and musical director, that's exactly the plan. "We're going to keep it loose this whole week," Blackstone tells Fuse. "We're going to go with the flow. We got a couple of surprises up our sleeve. We know what the fans want to hear and there's so much to choose from that we're able to dibble and dabble into her catalog. New York will be different than Paris will be different than London."

Blackstone revealed that the major mechanics of the tour were hatched as late as early October, with setlist construction falling to Rihanna, Blackstone, keyboardist/co-musical director Omar Edwards and Roc Nation President Jay Brown. "My role is to put her hits in a sequence that could relate to the people immediately," says Blackstone, who's worked with Kanye West, Jay-Z and Maroon 5. "We're not doing a long show in relation to a tour or stadium show. We wanted to inspire the people immediately and consistently." The bassist admitted that paradoxically, Rihanna's numerous hits—9 No. 1s on the Billboard 100—actually makes it a tougher process to construct the nightly set.

With 200 journalists all clamoring to get near the singer (us included!) to discover the "real" Rihanna away from the cameras and glitz, Blackstone says it's hiding in plain sight. "She's exactly the same person away from all of that. It's very weird that she's the same, but I think that's why people connect with her. She's a very down-to-earth girl; she's a 24-year-old girl growing into her womanhood and it's exciting to see the evolution of where she's come from seven years ago to this world superstar phenomenon. She's so humble and eager to learn, but she knows what she wants. She's a boss in her own right."

Despite the fatigue ("I'm probably running at about a four out of ten right now"), Blackstone seems perpetually jovial and optimistic about the tour, hinting at even bigger things as the trip progresses."To have such a successful first show is only the beginning of the potential of what shows six and seven could be," Blackstone says. "We're looking forward to the height of where we could go this next week. Rihanna's liable to do anything because she has so much fun doing her music."

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