At 9 o'clock sharp in downtown Miami, the Weeknd -- also known as Abel Tesfaye -- took to the microphone behind a translucent curtain hanging from the rafters above a nearly pitch-black stage.
His repentant yowls chilled the packed James L. Knight Center as he opened with "Adaptation" from the 2013 release Kiss Land.
See also: The Weeknd Giving Away Free Kiss Land Condoms
When the curtain finally fell, vivid blue lights cut through the dark, highlighting the small pile of dreadlocks atop Abel's head.
See also: The Five People You Meet in the Weeknd's Kiss Land
He conducted his band, with his back to the infectiously enthusiastic crowd full of teens and 20-somethings, many carrying homemade signs or wearing fan gear.
When he finally turned around and began the next song on the album, "Love in the Sky," fans intensified their screams and uniformly raised their cellphones into the air for pictures and video.
One girl in the center of the front row, donning a backward cap and holding a lighter, apparently forgot the modern human need for incessant documentation. And instead, she kind of looked around in what seemed like a mixture of awe and ecstasy.
A fitting reaction to the Weeknd's booming instrumentation and fervid stage presence.
A few songs in, during "Belong to the World," an impressive display of signs resembling those of Tokyo, Japan,'s Kabukicho District lined the stage.
Words like "Seafood" and "Hotel" in both Japanese and English illuminated the otherwise dark auditorium. This reflected the foreign-feeling themes of Kiss Land, which Tesfaye wrote about touring life and alienation.
He often addressed the crowd, at one point calling Miami "like a second home" and later recalling how he had never left Toronto until a tour at age 21 in order to "see all of y'all." The crowd received these bits of info with predictable shrieks and applause.
The audience's sexy dancing and somewhat Beatles-like adulation continued until Tesfaye closed the rainy Saturday night show with "Wicked Games." Lines like "I love to watch you dance" and "So tell me you love me/Only for tonight" proved incredibly appropriate and at the time seemed personally written for this downtown Miami crowd.
-- Alex Broadwell
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