Music

Here’s what we learned from The Weeknd’s London show

The Weeknd just played a phenomenal two dates at London’s O2. Here’s what we took away from it all.

The Weeknd (real name Abel Tesfaye) has come a long way since the release of his Trilogy mixtapes back in 2011. Those six years have seen him rapidly grow into one of the biggest superstars on the planet, with both of his most recent albums hitting the No.1 spot on the US Billboard 200.

He’s now well into his Starboy world tour, with a handful of dates left across the UK following his double headline appearance at London’s O2. His dates so far have cemented his place at the top of the pop-RnB crossover pile. The Weeknd’s sound is both sensual and unreserved; an unusual result of being propelled into the mainstream by his uncensored and, until recently, largely underground early work.

Rather than outgrowing this sound, he carries it with him. As sultry and smooth as his sound is, it’s also incredibly mature. His set balances between brooding soul vibes and an all-out party, and it’s a blast. Here are some of the biggest lessons we took away from his second date at London’s O2.

He has some high profile friends

Not long after revealing that The Weeknd will appear on Drake’s More Life playlist project, the pair are standing together on the walkway cutting down the centre of the arena. “I heard House of Balloons,” Drizzy says, “which is in my top five albums of all time.” Queue a lot of hugging and some serious mutual respect. It’s part of Drake’s surprise three-track performance that see him treat stunned fans to Fake Love, Energy, and Jumpman. But does it steal The Weeknd’s thunder? Not at all. It just adds to tonight’s genuinely electric atmosphere. Talk about high profile friends. 

It’s always worth revisiting his back-catalogue

Plenty of people in the room tonight will know The Weeknd from his last two records; the breakthrough Beauty Behind The Madness and last year’s Starboy. But his set is peppered with older songs, including the middle section trio taken entirely from Drake’s favourite, House of Balloons. If anything, it’s unclear as to why it took until I Can’t Feel My Face for The Weeknd to become a household name. Newer fans will definitely not be disappointed going back and checking out what came before.

He can bring the biggest party

“Is this the biggest party in London tonight?” Tesfaye asks proudly during his set. And it almost definitely is. Those soulful numbers are set against huge dancefloor fillers, and as Secrets fades seamlessly into Can’t Feel My Face everyone is on their feet. The Weeknd conducts the party perfectly. Although a man of few words over the course of the evening, his enthusiastic rally cries never go unheard. False Alarm, the opener to his encore, sees him running across the vast stage and the attached walkway. It sounds absolutely huge.

His voice is unbelievable

Think The Weeknd needs to rely on production value for his showmanship? Think again. His voice is absolutely incredible, even as he uses his energy to join the crowd in their exuberant bouncing. The impressive stage design, which sees a massive star hanging over the arena contort with each new track, can’t upstage his pipes. Nor can the full live band, a more than welcome addition to any pop show (if The Weeknd can be classed as that). Take away all of that though, and you’ll still be left with an incredible performer who easily deserves his status tonight.

There are a few remaining UK dates of his current world tour, before The Weeknd heads into festival season including a headline appearance at Wireless in July. Grab tickets through Ticketmaster.co.uk.

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