Arts and Culture

Review: The Weeknd lifts off at the Etihad

As he touched down at the Etihad stadium on 10 June to embark on the second leg of his After Hours Til Dawn tour, the Canadian superstar Abel Tesfaye – better known as The Weeknd – was immediately preparing for lift off as he gave a performance of stratospheric proportions. 

There has been growing anticipation for devoted Weeknd fans since this tour was announced on the release of his fifth album, After Hours, in 2020. But the pandemic meant the tour was postponed – since when the prolific artist has released his sixth album, Dawn FM. 

Once the rebranded tour was announced, UK fans were buzzing with excitement, fuelled with regular TikTok updates from the first leg demonstrating heartfelt vocals, ambitious stage design and an energetic Tesfaye who sang through the night.

The main man did not disappoint. 

On arrival, fans were greeted with an apocalyptic skyline featuring famous architecture including a damaged St Paul’s Cathedral and a towering replica of The Empire State Building. The stage elongated out across the Etihad pitch, with an incredible silver robot twisting on its axis, capped with a colossal moon floating above the stage forming a backdrop in Manchester’s evening sky. 

The Weeknd owned the stage for approximately two hours in which he barely sat still, as he segued through an impressive 33 songs varying from recent material to fan favourites from the singer’s back catalogue. 

This enabled him to play conductor as he amped up the tempo with tracks like “Crew Love”, “The Hills” and “Blinding Lights” which saw the stage lit up by flame as the pyrotechnics revealed his cult like dancers – standing like statues and dressed in all white. 

In contrast, he sobered the mood with his ballad like discography steeped in emotion. My only gripe was the superstar donned a MF Doom-esque mask for the majority of his performance which detracted from a more personal experience – although perhaps expected from a man who is shrouded in mystery. 

He finished with “Moth to a flame”, and that I was – mesmerised by his sound and vision, anyone lucky enough to be attending his London shows this summer will be transfixed by an unforgettable performance.

Image: James Lee

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