By Sowmya Krishnamurthy
The Weeknd loves New York City. On Monday night (October 7), during the first of two sold-out shows, Abel Tesfaye revealed to the crowd at Radio City Music that he’s recording his next album in the Big Apple. “This sh– is so surreal man. Radio City, what the f—?” the Toronto singer asked, clearly taken aback by the magnitude of playing at the historic venue.
The city has always held a special place in the 23-year-old’s heart. He shared that the first time he ever left his native Canada was to tour in NYC after releasing the acclaimed House of Balloons mixtape.
No longer a stranger to air travel nor the stage, The Weeknd was a more seasoned performer this go-around. The crooner was visibly in his element. His voice was markedly stronger and he breezed through his airy falsettos with ease from “The Town” and “Pretty” off his recent album Kiss Land. Original fans of The Weeknd were not disappointed either, as he revisited several tracks from the previous Trilogy including “House of Balloons/Glass Table Girls,” “The Morning” and what’s become his signature song, “High for This.”
A sign reading “Tonight’s Show Contains Mature Content & Strobe Lights” welcomed fans at the venue and with good reason. Like Kiss Land’s album artwork, the stage was set against dazzling neon lights resembling something out of Tokyo’s red light district. Throughout the show, massive backdrop screens would cut to flashing, faux Japanese product commercials, the silhouette of dancing women and once, during the song “Kiss Land,” a softcore porn film definitely not appropriate for younger viewers.
Drake did not come out for the collaborative “Live For” or “Crew Love,” but The Weeknd’s band cleanly picked up any slack. In any case, it was his night to share with the fans that got him here. After all, it was grassroots Internet buzz that propelled him from mixtape unknown to a veritable star in just two years. “You guys brought me here,” he said humbly. “Thank you.”