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Concert review: The Weeknd lights up SoFi Stadium in dazzling ‘After Hours Til Dawn’ performance

The Weeknd points upwards toward the crowd dressed in all black. The singer dazzled audiences at SoFi stadium Friday with impassioned vocals and vibrant visual effects. (Megan Cai/Assistant Photo editor)

“After Hours Til Dawn Tour”

The Weeknd

SoFi Stadium

Sep. 2

By Alexis Jones

Sept. 3, 2022 5:19 p.m.

This post was updated Sept. 5 at 9:29 p.m.

Saturating fans with a colorful light show and sensual vocals, The Weeknd soaked up the LA love after hours.

Born Abel Tesfaye, the Canadian R&B-pop artist lit up SoFi Stadium in Inglewood on Friday night for his “After Hours til Dawn” tour. While pegged to his latest two studio albums, his performance featured a medley of his greatest hits spanning his career. With the crowd chanting the musician’s name before he even stepped onstage, The Weeknd served a vocal and visual spectacle that more than merited a minutelong round of roaring applause.

[Related: Concert review: Rina Sawayama brings big energy, dynamic performance on Dynasty tour]

Side screens startled the audience, who were in anticipation of hearing the singer’s first note, instead debuting a new teaser trailer for Tesfaye’s upcoming HBO series, “The Idol.” Fans were in for an even bigger surprise when the show’s leading lady Lily-Rose Depp appeared onstage in character to introduce The Weeknd. She did not directly address him by his moniker – most likely for purposes of filming footage for the show judging from the cameraman with Depp – but it was nevertheless a clever way to kill two birds with one stone.

Accompanied by loud buzzing, a bright red tint suddenly washed over the skyscraper backdrop to signal the start of The Weeknd’s set. Faceless figures covered head-to-toe in flowing scarlet garb then stepped out one by one to line the stage set, which was a miniature construction of a copper-rust dystopian skyline – nodding to the singer’s hometown of Toronto by featuring the CN Tower. Though the crowd could not see him, once they heard The Weeknd sing the first line of “Alone Again,” they were understandably in an excited frenzy.

As the background changed once again to a sunset overlooking the city, The Weeknd finally emerged onstage triumphant through the blue, green and purple fog, holding his mic stand above his head. Singing the darker-sounding new wave “Gasoline,” one could not help but notice the eerily unsettling mask he donned. Even though the mask did not cover his mouth, the stylized distorted opening vocals were hard to hear until The Weeknd clearly belted the chorus in a sultry fashion.

The artist visibly fed off fans’ exuberant energy when he took off the mask. As for his next songs off “Dawn FM,” he consistently called to the crowd, even briefly leading them in a singalong call-and-response chant. Shaking his fist, The Weeknd showed off his impressive range in an incredibly long vocal run during the climax of electro funk-pop “Sacrifice,” eliciting many cheers.

For his next song “How Do I Make You Love Me?,” The Weeknd sauntered onto the catwalk toward the center of the stadium for the first time, where he remained for almost the entirety of the show. While he mostly just cruised back and forth around the circular platform, he still captured the audience’s attention through intentional gestures and thoughtful eye contact as he serenaded fans.

With a setlist of close to 30 songs, The Weeknd hit an energizing stride as he timed transitions between songs seamlessly, which fired up the crowd upon instant recognition of breakout hits such as “Can’t Feel My Face” and “The Hills.” In the latter, the show refreshingly broke up its albeit dynamic laser light show of mostly reds and greens with even more exhilarating fiery bursts of pyrotechnics shot up into the sky on the chorus beat.

Throughout the night, The Weeknd expressed his gratitude for the city by shouting nonstop about how much he loves his “second home” and even subtly weaving it into one of his songs, “Sold out the SoFi.” However, the synthesized bass overwhelmingly accounted for the stadium size to the point of deafening ears, which only found reprieve when lowered to an acceptable volume and frequency to let the vocalist shine.

[Related: Concert review: Still Woozy brings dizzying energy despite technical difficulties]

The Weeknd stagnated for a bit, though, on the lower stage despite stirring vocals in “Die For You,” relying on constantly changing colors and holographic beams to carry the crowd through a string of slower songs. But he brought them back to life in a unified trance when he belted out the titular phrase of his breakup anthem, “Call Out My Name.”

It was then that the energy level picked up again with an enthusiastically received body roll that led into faster-paced tracks, such as “Save Your Tears” and “Less Than Zero,” building up to the highly anticipated finale. For the biggest song of his career, the stadium and its occupants were the most illuminated they had ever been as The Weeknd dazzled in his closing showstopper, “Blinding Lights.”

And as he took in the glittering amber shine and shouts from the crowd, The Weeknd delivered a luminous performance that marked a new dawn of time.

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Alexis Jones | Arts editor
Jones is the 2022-2023 Arts editor. She was previously an Arts staff writer from 2021-2022. She is a fourth-year psychology student from Las Vegas.
Jones is the 2022-2023 Arts editor. She was previously an Arts staff writer from 2021-2022. She is a fourth-year psychology student from Las Vegas.
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