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Review: The Weeknd is a starboy at London show

By Zara Woodcock Mar 15, 2017
The Weeknd brought out Drake during the second show the next day. Photo by Justin Ng

The beloved Abel Tesfaye, better known as The Weeknd, had finally blessed us with his Starboy: Legend of the Fall Tour, and he went out and proved exactly how much of a legendary ‘Starboy’ he intends to remain.

This is The Weeknd’s first large-scale tour, with his last being in smaller venues such as the Electric Ballroom. Now playing at the O2 arena in North Greenwich, Abel has definitely climbed the ladder and finally reached the top. His career started in 2011 with his free release of three mixtapes: House of Balloons, Thursday, and Echoes of Silence.

These mixtapes brought him quick internet fame with creepy-but-sexy spacey vibes that revved up the hype engine with both hipsters and top-40 lovers. Abel’s career quickly solidified with his early collaborations with Drake and Wiz Khalifa and now, six years later, he has established his XO brand (and sound label) and young women everywhere are screeching his double Grammy-winning name.

The Weeknd played two dates in London, March 7 and 8. Buying tickets for this anticipated show back in November took two hours of waiting ‘in line’ on Ticketmaster and a lot of anxious sweating whilst hoping to beat hundreds of thousands of other fans to the limited tickets. Surprisingly, the arena was filled to the rim with 15-18 year old girls overly dressed in hopes The Weeknd might notice them for a few fateful seconds. It’s even more surprising when the underage girls had to bring their parents and force them to listen to song after song about cocaine and how good in bed he is with his scantily clad women.

Photo by Justin Ng
The Weeknd said he would ‘die for his XO fans’. Photo by Justin Ng

Supporting him on his tour, Bryson Tiller and the flamboyant rapper Lil Uzi Vert had the few fans at the arena early enough to hear them bouncing on their feet. The crowds extreme excitement did not come until Bryson Tiller played his last and most famous song, ‘Don’t’, as everyone knew they were all so much closer to seeing Abel. Five minutes before The Weeknd came on, the arena suddenly filled with a stupendous 20,000 people, all drunk, infatuated and totally overwhelmed.

The opener, ‘All I Know’ from his latest studio album Starboy, set the mood of his original trademark of being king of sex pop. The arena erupted in screeches and out-of-key singing every time his perfect falsettos wrung hearts and souls. Although Abel isn’t one for on-stage chatter, he makes up for it with the emotion in each of his songs, backed by his three-piece band and Daft Punk sounds and imagery. The disappointment that comes with his first London night concert is the fact that his latest album lacked any variety. He completely fell off his original path of dark and mysterious and jumped straight onto the Now That’s What I Call Music! mainstream bandwagon.

‘Party Monster’ and ‘False Alarm’, both chart-topping singles from Starboy, made the fact that The Weeknd will never be the same camera-shy, drugged-out brood that we all fell in love with years ago a little more sad. But then he bounces back with his sexy Fifty Shades of Grey Soundtrack hit ‘Earned It’. Whilst Starboy may be his bestselling album to date, his mostly female audience lost their minds when ‘High For This’ from his original mixtape came on. The crowd was most emotional and further in awe when he sang his older songs in pitches unimaginable but merely danced to his club bangers ‘Starboy’ and ‘Can’t Feel My Face’.

Above him, a neon-lit, psychedelic 60ft star (of some sorts) provided the much needed futuristic theme he has been trying hard to portray, and it was achieved thanks to his two Daft Punk-produced tracks, showing him how original out of space electronic should sound. His black and white slow motion on-screen camera zoomed in on his face as well as zooming in on shrieking, tearful fans and proved how drug-fuelled his image really is.

Abel Tesfaye will always be a flawless, pitch-perfect singer to his fans. His stunningly lovesick fans will follow him to his grave no matter how average he may sometimes get, and he knows this very well.  As long as his music stays influenced by narcotics and stays extremely sexually graphic and broody, his XO fans aren’t going anywhere. He perfectly puts it in ‘The Hills’, ‘When I’m f**ked up, that’s the real me’.

The Weeknd is on his 46-show Legend of the Fall tour until June 9. Starboy is available on iTunes and Spotify.


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