The Weeknd hits his mark

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The Weeknd at a performance in 2012 (File photo)

In a short two or three years, Abel Tesfaye, better known as The Weeknd, has seen a rise to R&B fame that seems to be more unorthodox, organic and accidental with each turn he takes.
From his mysterious trilogy of mixtapes, which were first launched in March of 2011, all the way to his recent full studio release, Kiss Land, The Weeknd has been through a unique and captivating journey that’s seen him grow from being an unknown vocal vandal to progressively selling out larger venues in his own hometown of Toronto. This past Sunday, The Weeknd sold out Toronto’s Sony Centre for Performing Arts for a second consecutive night.

He was scheduled for three nights at Toronto’s Massey Hall, on Oct. 17, 19 and 20. Due to inadequate technical resources after the first night, he made the executive decision to re-locate to a different venue that could accommodate his elaborate Kiss Land set structure. “From Mod Club, to Sound Academy, to Massey Hall and now The Sony Centre,” said The Weeknd, clearly hinting at the fact that not many young progressive R&B artists have been selling out venues consistently. He also made it clear that his love for Toronto is the reason for his success. Even though his new album Kiss Land isn’t as sonically strong as his mixtape trilogy, The Weeknd visibly campaigns for his new L.P. no matter what.

By the time he took the stage, The Weeknd looked completely cool and collected for someone about to perform in front of 3,000+ screaming fans. The stage set up reflected his dark music and persona to a tee. On stage, The Weeknd was alone with just a mic, two guitarists and a drummer in the background. The biggest and flashiest part of his set were the several grandiose video screens splashed with neon Chinatown signage, Japanese commercial-inspired interludes and anime motifs which seems to be where his current cultural interests have strayed.

As soon as he let loose on his opening track, it was clear that he has stepped up his stage presence. It is a huge change from his initial stage efforts back in 2011 where he seemed nervous and uneasy alone in the spotlight. His 80 minute set started with a few cuts off Kiss Land but the real engagement wasn’t in full effect until he promised the crowd “we’re gunna play the classics tonight Toronto.” As soon as this was said, the crowd, whether young, old, hipster or gangster immediately lost their minds.

Songs like “The Morning,” “The Party & The After Party” and “High For This” were all faithful renditions that had the crowd basically yelling the words back to him at full force.
All in all, The Weeknd gave a tight, seductive and professional performance. He closed things out with his most emotional track entitled “Wicked Games” that he dedicated to the city he “never left for 21 years.” It was easy to see that everyone went home satisfied from The Weeknd’s captivating and dark craft. Not bad for a kid from Scarborough.

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