Plenty of men have stood on a stage under contorting neon lights and boasted about how great, talented, rich, and sexually desirable they are. But no one has done it with such graceful humility as the Weeknd. His performance at the BB&T Center in Sunrise felt like some kind of surreal confession of stardom. His lyrics struck like a sermon. He was singing to us all directly. Here was a man who, some ten or so years earlier, was homeless and strung out on the cold Toronto streets. Now here he is, begging us to look at what we've done. We, the fans, have turned him into a motherfucking Starboy.
With fame comes a certain level of forgetfulness. This is the Legend of the Fall tour. This is the Weeknd's victory lap for achieving mainstream pop radio domination. It took four albums and a haircut to get him here. In the video for lead single “Starboy,” featuring Daft Punk, he quite literally kills his old self. We should have known he wouldn't play much from his first EP releases, the iconic Trilogy, or his second artistically applauded but crossover failure Kissland.
If you were a day-one fan who'd never had the pleasure of experiencing live versions of “High for This,” “What You Need,” or “House of Balloons” (and I'm just listing these songs as they appear on the album, because Trilogy is amazing, and you need to listen to it now), you went home disappointed — which itself is a statement of the Weeknd's greatness, because the two hours he spent onstage were nothing short of brilliantly entertaining. He sang with perfect precision, jumped two feet into the air, swung his mike stand around with rock-star swagger, and otherwise proved himself the second coming of Michael Jackson, sans moonwalk. The Weeknd is just that good. He can afford to have split personalities.
Photo by Alexander Oliva
He opened with “Starboy,” emerging from the middle of a long, smoky catwalk that cut the arena in half as the crowd erupted in vaginal screams. He followed into the album's second track, “Party Monster,” and then “Reminder,” stoking the crowd with calls of “West Palm” and “Fort Lauderdale, let's go!” Here he goes, talking about how he just won an award on a kids' show for singing about doing blow, and he's wrestling with that. But onstage, it's clear he has accepted all the attention, money, and recognition. He's actually quite comfortable with it now.
The Weeknd's cup runneth over, and because he is a humble god, he shares the wealth with his friends. He deftly shared the stage with his opening acts in a way that is to be commended and, honestly, should be repeated by other headliners. When it came time to perform “Might Not,” a tune on which the Weeknd features, he brought out the main artist, Belly, who most people had probably missed when doors opened. He doesn't have any songs with 6lack, but halfway through the set, he brought the cool singer onstage anyway to do his current radio smash, “PRBLMS.”
Rae Sremmurd, who thrilled the audience with every one of their hits except their recent number one, returned to the stage triumphantly to rile everyone up with “Black Beatles.” These unexpected cameos amplified the energy. The Weeknd was happy to join his four-piece band onstage and let the openers shine. In this way, everyone had their opportunity to show a peak-hour arena crowd what they were made of.
The Weeknd is a captivating performer, but don't go expecting to hear his old shit.
Photo by Alexander Oliva
When he finally performed “Can't Feel My Face,” it sounded almost cheesy in its total familiarity. We've all heard this song a million times, maybe more than we'd have cared to. It's become almost robotic, although he performed it well. You have to remind yourself that this is a song that became almost obnoxious in its ubiquity, yet it is about doing so much cocaine that your whole body has become numb. Sure, it could be an allegory for a girl, but that's the Weeknd's shtick. He's that dude, and he may no longer have the hair, but he's still singing about poppin' pills, fucking bitches, and living life.
On Starboy, he's evolved into a man who tells you to your face that you've created a monster. No longer is he the shy, frightened, dead-eyed street fiend with the golden voice. You did this to him, and in your heart, you know it's true. Then you fall in love with his ego as it runs all over the stage. His performances are captivating. You can't mistake his power. You're basically in love. Now go tell your friends about it.
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Photo by Alexander Oliva
Legend of the Fall Set List
- "Party Monster"
- "Six Feet Under"
- "Low Life"
- "Might Not" (with Belly)
- "The Crew"
- "Or Nah"
- "Some Way"
- "Wicked Games"
- "Tell Your Friends"
- "True Colors"
- "Earned It"
- “PRBMLS” (with 6lack)
- "In The Night"
- “Black Beatles” (with Rae Sremmurd)
- "Can't Feel My Face"
- "I Feel It Coming"
- "The Hills"