The Weeknd Takes MSG

by Adam Kargenian

weeknd-msg-2015
Via Brooklyn Vegan

“You know, I see these shows as a celebration of XO, and Monday we played Yankee Stad- sorry, not yet. Madison Square Garden, we played MSG, and it was wonderful.”

It was a rare blunder on a nearly flawless night for Abel Tesfaye.

Taking the stage Thursday night at Barclays Center, “The Hills” singer capped a 3 night residency in New York that included shows at both of the city’s major arenas.

Opening his set with “Real Life,” Tesfaye, better known as The Weeknd, didn’t stop with an eclectic opening of several hits off of Beauty Behind the Madenss–his second studio LP that landed three weeks at number 1 of the Billboard Top 200–including “Often” and “Acquainted.” 

The production behind Tesfaye was outstanding as well. Pillaring pyrotechnics were featured in “Crew Love” and the closing song of “The Hills.” Although Tesfaye didn’t feature a B stage with a floating deck such as fellow pop stars Justin Timberlake and Taylor Swift, he still commanded a stage that included vertical hydraulics and an elevated platform for his band. Various LEDS formed in geometric shapes floated up and down to give a dynamic presentation accompanying each new track.

It should be noted that the crowd was loving every minute of it. “Shameless” was met with a 17,000 voice reverb on every note. “Earned It,” the single off of 50 Shades of Grey, sent the majorly female audience into a frenzy.

Near the end of the set, it seemed as if Tesfaye had lost his audience. Despite the energetic percussion of “The Birds, Part 1,” there was a noticeable restlessness in the crowd during “Dark Times” and “As you Are.” The energy reciprocated was not matching that of which the singer presented. 

It didn’t matter, though. The Weeknd recaptured everyone with his closing numbers. Starting with the Michael Jackson-esque “In the Night,” Tesfaye moved into his radio hit “I Can’t Feel My Face,” demonstrating his superior dance moves before showcasing his limpid falsetto on “Prisoner.” “The Hills” brought back the fire, literally, before walking off the stage to a rampage of cheers.

As he returned for the encore of “Wicked Games,” Tesfaye crooned to the lyrics of “Bring your drugs, baby, I can bring my pain.” But there was no pain noticeable here on The Weeknd. This was a pop star at ease.

Adam Kargenian is a Staff Writer. Email him at music@nyunews.com

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