The Weeknd’s After Hours til Dawn tour was dubbed “a journey through a cosmic cataclysm that has erupted and plagued the Earth,” and delivered that it did. Abel Tesfaye packed the 80,000-capacity London Stadium both nights in his first tour since 2016 and his last as ‘The Weeknd’.
Tesfaye’s presence was felt as he burst onto the dystopian stage wearing a stone-coloured bulletproof vest and a MF Doom-style mask, all on the back of his controversial HBO show The Idol which has received abysmal reviews.
The ominous set was genuinely captivating. Fans were greeted by a huge model of a post-apocalyptic skyline with destroyed landmarks including St Paul’s Cathedral, the Empire State Building and the CN Tower from Abel’s hometown Toronto.
On the other side of the pitch-sized catwalk hung a gigantic fluorescent moon and a menacing silver robot which loomed over the Olympic Park and shot lasers from her eyes.
Abel’s caramel-like voice did not disappoint. He began the two-hour spectacle on a high with his psychedelic dance hit Take My Breath and kept the energy up throughout.
Impressively, the 33-year-old seamlessly crammed 34 hits into the 120-minute performance including Save Your Tears, Can’t Feel My Face and lockdown anthem Blinding Lights.
The stadium was alive with technetronic lights shooting up into the heavens and bursts of fire heating up the audience.
Abel’s discography and pristine vocals were accompanied by a troupe of Handmaid’s Tale-style dancers wearing white capes.
The dancers marched in union across the stage, often worshipping the robot deity and adding to the show’s brooding atmosphere.
With the spectacle of the set, special effects and dancers, you couldn’t help but feel a disconnect from The Weeknd, largely due to the mask which covered his face for half the show.
While he eventually took the metallic mask off, there was very little audience interaction, making it difficult to get a true sense of who the mysterious Abel Tesfaye is.
Nevertheless, this did not deter the mammoth crowd from roaring with cheers throughout the gig, including for Abel’s slower ballads like Often and Creepin’.
It was a slight anticlimax to finish the show with his 2021 synth track, Moth to a Flame, rather than one of his bigger hits, but overall the show was exceptional and unlike anything I have seen before.
If this is Abel’s last outing as The Weeknd, he will be leaving the name behind at the top of his game.