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    Rihanna Gets Sexy in Tour Opener

    Rihanna certainly wasn't the only girl in Baltimore, let alone the world, Saturday night. Not only was the 13,500-seat First Mariner Arena nearly full for the debut of her "Loud" tour, disproving rumors that tickets weren't moving. But the stage itself was crowded with eight dancers and seven musicians, who often joined the Barbadian sex bomb for elaborately choreographed routines. Rihanna was also accompanied by her own disembodied voice, which kept the music going when she was too busy dancing to sing -- or wasn't onstage at all. From the opening "Only Girl (in the World)" to the concluding "Umbrella," the show ran 105 minutes.

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    Arctic Monkeys Rock New Songs in Tour Opener

    "I wanna rock and roll," declared Alex Turner in "Brick by Brick," one of the new songs the Arctic Monkeys played Tuesday night at Washington's 9:30 Club. To judge by the untested material the quartet performed on the opening night of its American tour, the upcoming Suck It and See -- due June 7 -- will be its poppiest and most direct yet. But the Monkeys are too canny and eclectic to simply rock and roll. In jeans and T-shirts -- plus Turner's black leather jacket, which he soon tossed off -- the Monkeys sure looked like rockers. The evening's liveliest moments featured such standard rock ingredients as jabbing guitars, strutting basslines, and cascading feedback.

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    Adele Wows With Chops, Chatter in D.C.

    In 1978, the herald of young Britain arrived in the U.S. to sneer that the queen "ain't no human bein'." Some 33 years later, a new model of young British singer brought the former colonies a different sort of message: "I thought Kate was getting a little too skinny, till I saw her in that dress." The predominantly female crowd at Washington's very sold-out 9:30 Club roared its approval of Adele's assessment of Kate Middleton's wedding gown. But then it cheered just about every sound from the neo-soul star's mouth Thursday night, whether sung or spoken. The first show of the vocalist's current American tour was a twin-edged love fest: adoration for Adele and her songs, which are mainly about the guy who doesn't adore her anymore.

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    Of Montreal & Janelle Monae Kick Off Tour

    The night before the release of its exuberant new album False Priest, Of Montreal began its U.S. tour with the first of two sold-out shows Monday at Washington, D.C.'s 9:30 Club. But singer-songwriter Kevin Barnes' new music wasn't enough to sustain a poorly paced, overly long set. Rather than a triumphant bow, the tour's first night played more like an out-of-town tryout. Of Montreal was easily upstaged by its hand-picked opener, Janelle Monae. Of Montreal's set began energetically, with the new "Coquet Coquette" and the first appearance of the four costumed performers who complemented the band's current eight-person lineup. Two towering fish-headed ETs entered, seemingly walking on spindly metal legs.

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    Baroness Rock D.C. on Opening Night

    Launching their U.S. tour Wednesday night in Washington, D.C., Savannah, GA, quartet Baroness wasted little time in showing off the grand, intricate style of Blue Record, one of 2009's most acclaimed metal albums. Leading off with instrumental album opener "Bullhead's Psalm," the band blended detailed guitar with delicate feedback before yielding to the galloping rhythms and yowling vocals of "The Sweetest Curse." The quartet executed similar transitions several more times during an imposing 80-minute set -- although not so often as on the new album. Despite the band's undeniable sonic grandeur, the visual presentation onstage at the 300-capacity Rock'n'Roll Hotel was more punk than prog. The only stage decoration was a reproduction of Blue Record's cover (hand drawn by singer-guitarist John Baizley) that was largely hidden by Allen Blickle's drum kit.

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    The Gossip Kick Off U.S. Tour in D.C.

    Now a major-label act with U.K. chart hits whose bluesy garage-punk style has been streamlined by producer Rick Rubin, the Gossip are no longer underground scrappers. But somebody forgot to inform vocalist Beth Ditto, who was her old exuberant subcultural self when the band began its first U.S. tour in three years early Wednesday night at Washington, D.C.'s 9:30 Club. While the Portland, Oregon-based band was impressively tight, Ditto's looseness made the show. Drummer Hannah Blilie, guitarist-keyboardist Brace Paine, and touring bassist Chris Sutton began the set-opening "Dimestore Diamond" without Ditto, whose voice entered before she strutted onstage.

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    Alice in Chains Kick Off U.S. Tour in DC

    Seven years after Layne Staley's death from a drug overdose in 2002, Alice in Chains began its first major headlining tour Friday night without the iconic singer. The quartet's upcoming album -- Black Gives Way to Blue, due Sept. 29 -- includes songs inspired by the late frontman. But their 100-minute performance at Washington, D.C.'s 1,200-capacity 9:30 Club demonstrated that new leader William DuVall can make fans forget his predecessor. Guitarist/co-vocalist Jerry Cantrell, drummer Sean Kinney, and bassist Mike Inez haven't opted for a new band name or musical style, and were clearly pleased to play their old material. The show opened with "Rain When I Die," one of the group's many lumbering odes to despair.

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