Rock in Rio’s second weekend, featuring pop stars like headliner Taylor Swift, John Legend, Bruno Mars and Ed Sheeran ruling the two-day event, went off with far fewer hitches than the first weekend. John Legend took the place of Sam Smith, who was in New York, recovering from vocal surgery. An estimated 90,000 fans were in attendance over the two days of the second weekend, compared to the 82,000 from last weekend, when rockers like No Doubt, Metallica and Linkin Park were the big draws.
Taylor Swift was the headliner on Friday night, and she put on an amazing show, which also served to kick off her United States leg of her worldwide 1989 tour. She began singing around 11:30 p.m., Las Vegas time, with Welcome To New York from 1989. The huge crowds gathered to see her went wild as Swift continued on, highlighting songs from her fifth studio album.
As Swift sang Blank Space, she was already into her second costume change of the evening, wearing a little black dress. She wielded a golf club with gleeful abandon, and Swift’s female fans were treated to the sight of her shirtless male backup dancers.
Swift put on a 120-minute blazing set, with only three songs in it that were not on 1989. One of the highlights was when she sang Bad Blood. The video for it premiered on the Billboard Music Awards show on Sunday night. Also, when Swift sang Out of the Woods, giant paper airplanes flew through the air, adding yet another cool touch to her show. She was joined onstage by Ed Sheeran, who had wowed the Rock in Rio crowds earlier, and they sang a duet of Sheeran’s song, Tenerife Sea.
Taylor Swift closed her set with a performance of her biggest hit from 1989, Shake It Off. As she sang, confetti and fireworks filled the night sky. The crowds there to see her and the other performers on Friday were estimated to be about 50,000 strong.
Though Swift put on the performance of the night, Jessie J, Tove Lo, and Charli XCX also put on stunning sets of their own earlier on Friday. Charli XCX did a rock version of Fancy that was incredible, and Jessie J, wearing a “Las Vegas” shirt, sang her big hits like Do It Like A Dude and Bang Bang. During Charli XCX’s set, fans threw beach balls around and a mosh pit even started up.
Ed Sheeran’s set at Rock in Rio was another highlight of Friday. He wove a few songs together, creating a brilliant mash-up of I See Fire, Feeling Good by Nina Simone, In The Club by 50 Cent, and his own song, You Need Me, I Don’t Need You. Sheeran, or any other other of musical artists, could have headlined concerts on their own. They all put on scintillating performances, leading up to Taylor Swift’s set, which closed out Friday night.
On Saturday, the crowds at Rock in Rio U.S.A. were back, for the last day and night of the two-weekend-long music festival. John Legend, Big Sean and Empire of the Sun were among the acts which performed earlier in the day, before Bruno Mars performed his set and closed out Rock in Rio.
Empire of the Sun, an Australian electronic music group fronted by singer Luke Steele, were great and helped get the party atmosphere going and the crowds energized and pumped up. The songs that they performed included Alive and Walking On a Dream.
John Legend did an impressive set, filling in for Sam Smith. He sang Smith’s Lay Me Down, as a tribute to his ailing friend. He and Smith sang it together on this year’s Red Nose Day. Another cover song that Legend performed was the Marvin Gaye standard, What’s Going On. Legend had also performed it at the Hollywood Bowl in 2014, when he did a tribute show to Marvin Gaye and his music.
Josh Stone, Magic!, and soulman Mayer Hawthorne all performed earlier on Saturday, and their sets added to the fun and festivities of the Rock in Rio music festival. Hawthorne sang Bel Biv Devoe’s hit, Poison, and an amazing version of Aerosmith’s hit, Walk This Way. Later in his set, he sang This Is How We Do It by Montell Jordan.
Saturday night’s headliner, Bruno Mars, gave a crowd-pleasing performance, starting off his set playing the drums. Then, he sang one of his latest hits, Locked Out of Heaven. As he sang, fireworks shot up into the night sky. During his set, Mars sang all of his biggest hit songs, like Wish I Was Your Man, Treasure, and Just the Way You Are. Another highlight of his set was when Mars did a cover of the R. Kelly hit, Ignition. He closed his two-hour set with his enormously popular hit song, Uptown Funk.
The second weekend of the Rock in Rio U.S.A. music festival, when pop musical acts like Taylor Swift, John Legend, and Bruno Mars were the biggest attractions, pulled in even larger crowds than the first weekend, when rock music was featured. Many of the glitches that surfaced last weekend had been, for the most part, resolved. The first-ever Rock in Rio U.S.A. music festival was, for the most part, successful, and it was a concert experience of a lifetime for the crowds who attended the two-weekend event.
Written By Douglas Cobb
Billboard: Bruno Mars Shines at Rock in Rio USA Festival in Las Vegas
Billboard: Taylor Swift Sizzles on Day 3 of Rock in Rio USA
Los Angeles Times: Rock in Rio: Five highlights from Day 1
KLAS TV Las Vegas: U.S. debut of Rock in Rio
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Yahoo Music (blog): Rock in Rio USA’s Got It Covered: Homages Rule Weekend 2, Day 2