Pros and cons of The Weeknd’s Burning City

The Weeknd will finally be able to finish this fall, initially in Mexico, the tour that he has been postponing since 2020 -for well-known reasons- and that in the end brings together the presentation of two albums. ‘After Hours’ and ‘Dawn FM’ have been two related albums to some extent because of their dedication to the 80s, to nuanced synth-pop and a character disturbed by the things that have always thrown Abel Tesfaye off balance. Fame, women, addiction, downfall.

‘After Hours til Dawn Tour’ is a stadium tour that miraculously passes through Madrid, in this case through the Cívitas Metropolitano. Taylor Swift, for her part, will visit the Bernabéu, and we hope it will be a trend. The Weeknd did not manage to sell out the seats at the price of gold, but the Atlético de Madrid stadium looked full, with an estimated attendance of 45,000 spectators prepared to see the show of the most listened to artist on Spotify in the world. Neither more nor less than number 1.

The stage is divided into 3 parts that extend throughout the entire football stadium. It is impossible not to think about the Super Bowl, therefore, even if resources and personnel are limited. Skyscrapers reign supreme on the impressive main stage. The city as oppression in its enormity. There are located, almost hiding, some musicians to be determined, very difficult to see. Rarely do the screens show a drummer or a guitarist… The exact acoustic conditions of this type of stadium make it difficult to tell if there are many more.

In the central part there is a mammoth figure and the reference to Michael Jackson in ‘HIStory’ is evident -it is difficult to think of a name that has influenced The Weeknd more-, but luckily Abel Tesfaye is not represented in this case, rather we are facing a recreation of Hajime Sorayama that we already saw in the ‘Echoes of Silence’ video. And the last and third stage is crowned by a luminous full moon.

The show opens with two dozen imperial guardsmen in white pacing the entire stage, all of them in the grip of some sort of religious ritual. His step is constant and regular, but without the millimeter rigor or the variety of a Michael, Beyoncé or Madonna show. They’re more banshees than dancers, which can be a good thing and a bad thing.

The great pro of ‘After Hours til Dawn Tour’ is its elegance and sobriety, its absence of tacky elements. The show is as cohesive as their latest albums, and doesn’t despair of entertaining the casual viewer through constant distractions, balloon numbers, or grand pyrotechnic tricks at every turn. A series of flares did burn the public – who were already sweating at 35º C – during ‘The Hills’; the bracelets handed out to people upon entering light up during strategic songs like -of course- ‘Blinding Lights’; but a thousand and one possible resources are avoided that surely someone came to put on the table, and someone with great wisdom, he ruled out.

The show is based on a huge repertoire, which is undoubtedly another huge plus point, not available to anyone. The concert begins with a single like ‘Take My Breath’, soon after he gets rid of that already almost forgotten but still efficient hit called ‘Can’t Feel My Face’, the stadium falls when things like ‘Starboy’ or ‘Save Your Tears’ sound, and it is also a joy to remember the Siouxsie sample from his beginnings in ‘House of Balloons’. Among up to 34 songs culminating in the recent ‘Popular’, ‘In Your Eyes’ and ‘Moth to a Flame’, I highlight the power of pseudo ballads. The transition from ‘Out of Time’ to ‘I Feel It Coming’ from his days with Daft Punk, and from here to the lately viral ‘Die for You’, is a truly lovely moment.

The songs also follow each other without pause, without the intervention of guests, or projected featurings. No blocking, which makes the 2-hour show go by in a breeze without making you want to “zap” when a guest doesn’t like you. Although this third “for” leads us to the first “against”, because the concert finally lacks that great narrative sense that it seeks, at least for the casual spectator. If there is a concept, of course the public does not come out talking about it.

For a show for a large stadium, and despite the fact that sobriety is a plus, there are times when The Weeknd gets a little lost, and with it our admiration for him. It does not seem by chance that he is wearing white, since many times otherwise it would be impossible to guess where he is. He spends 55 minutes wearing a mask inspired by MF Doom, and only when we’ve been in concert for 1 hour, the screens -tiny, insufficient- show his face for the first time. Thus, it is difficult to connect with him, to know that it really is him, in what, on the other hand, could be one of the reflections on fame for the protagonist of ‘The Idol’.

Thus, the concert is mainly based on the songs -and it will not be here where we criticize such a thing-, but the artist, the show, the charisma (there is not an iota of humor in the show) are presented a step below similar sound blockbusters. You know, The Weeknd made a good Super Bowl, but it’s not like he made the most memorable either. 7.5.

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Pros and cons of The Weeknd’s Burning City