The Weeknd Fans Pack Rogers Center For The Long-Awaited Return Of Toronto’s Prodigal Son

At least this time he wasn’t Rogered.

After being denied the chance to begin his “After Hours til Dawn” world tour here in July due to a nationwide communications deficit from communications giant The Weeknd — one of music’s most popular commodities — more than made up for it with a 100-minute bombing raid. of the senses that marked the triumphant return of Toronto’s prodigal son.

And one of the more remarkable aspects of the show is that the 45,000 worshipers who filled the SkyDome — er, Rogers Center — were there not to see dark R&B phenomenon The Weeknd, but to welcome one of them home, because they occasionally broke into chants of “Ab-el! Ab-el! Ab-el!” — referring to the headliner’s first name, Abel Tesfaye — throughout the show.

As he proved with his 2021 Super Bowl Halftime Show, Tesfaye knows how to run and scale big events, and Thursday’s concert — the first of two — fit the bill. Tesfaye made good use of the stadium’s length, which was bisected by a walkway with a giant replica of the moon at one end and a landscape of buildings, including a mini-replica of the CN Tower.

The opening lines of the song “After Hours” “Alone Again” set off a procession of 22 veiled women draped in red dresses (dressed lovers perhaps?) as Tesfaye donned a full-face mask that only went well into “Dawn FM’s” “Gasoline.

It should be mentioned that in addition to being one of the hardest working men in show business right now, he films between appearances of HBO’s ‘The Idol’, writes the score for the project along the way with his first opening act Mike Dean and collaborates with Universal. for a Halloween Horror Nights attraction at Walt Disney Worlds in Orlando and Hollywood.

He’s also pop’s Atlas: Tesfaye carried the weight of the world on his shoulders throughout the 29-song extravaganza.

If a band was present, the audience couldn’t see it, even though the arrangements were pelted with ominous basslines and showers of dance beats as he melted “How Do I Make You Love Me” into “Can’t Feel My Face.” While his voice was in fine shape, showing off his envious low to high tenor range, the cavernous acoustics of the closed roof stadium sometimes distorted the clarity of his singing (I thought the space was amplifying a spectacular light show).

The Weeknd is the atlas of pop, writes Nick Krewen: Tesfaye carried the weight of the world on his shoulders throughout the 29-song extravaganza.

But that auditory aspect of the performance was almost negligible, as the merry crowd—each of them stood up with their cell phones pointed at the stage or walkway—hit after hit in leather-lunged unison with their local superstar, be it ” I Feel It Coming,” waving the glowing wristbands they were given upon entering the show — or “Save Your Tears” or “Often.” Sometimes Tesfaye would step back and direct the crowd as they filled in the blanks, so enthralled were they with the music library he’s gifted them so far—as if everyone worked for The Weeknd.

After an apparent marathon of songs to start the show, Tesfaye took a breather at the end of “Starboy” to address the audience.

“Look what you’ve done, Toronto,” as he was drowned out by screams of admiration. “You just reminded me why I do what I do. In 2011, I played the Mod Club and now I play the SkyDome back-to-back. And I will continue to do this until the day I die.”

Fans are photographed during The Weeknd's show, Rogers Center, on Thursday, September 22, 2022 in Toronto, Ontario.

In terms of showmanship, he certainly delivered an eyeful in concept and execution, as there was always plenty to watch: the changing hues of the giant moon; the veiled sisters split into groups of captivating yet restrained choreographies, and a cityscape sometimes blazing with violent fury reflected post-apocalyptic decay or the hopeful promise of another sun risen morning.

Overall, the show could have used a little more emotional ballast, but that may be a minority opinion given the amount of satisfaction expressed by The Weeknd’s adoring audience.

After all, he’s their Starboy, you know?

They will support him as long as he wants.

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