The Weeknd brings show as he catches up with postponed gig at Toronto Stadium

TORONTO — The Weeknd returned to his hometown of Toronto on Thursday with all the flames and fury from his spectacular live stadium gig.

More than two months after a nationwide Rogers network outage ruined the Canadian pop star’s plans to kick off his world tour at home, he’s made up for it by bringing the massive show back to town for the final stops of the North American leg.

“They’re going to have to take me off the stage tonight,” he assured the crowd at Rogers Centre.

Turns out that wasn’t quite true.

Despite expectations that a surprise might have been in the works, The Weeknd stuck to the same 29-song list he performed at every stop on the After Hours Til Dawn tour.

Against a massive ensemble from a post-apocalyptic city, he sang a series of relentless hits that included “Can’t Feel My Face”, “I Feel It Coming”, “Starboy” and “Blinding Lights”, without staying for an bis.

Behind him, a dilapidated line of skyscrapers caught fire, billowing smoke and at one point seemed to crumble with the illusion of massive digital screens.

A group of dancers fully veiled in red cloth marched in a rhythmic procession for much of the show, eventually making their way to a giant moon on the other side of the stadium.

Amidst all the glitz, the evening offered the singer, born Abel Tesfaye, the chance to bask in his success to a local audience for the first time in years.

Tesfaye grew up in Scarborough, Ontario, in Toronto‘s east end, and it was here that he went from a worthy Toronto artist to a force on the music charts. Eventually, it earned him a coveted spot as entertainment at the 2021 Super Bowl halftime show.

It was his first concert in Toronto since his fourth studio album “After Hours” established him as one of the top artists in the industry.

And he told the crowd that this homecoming reminded him why he made music.

“My first show in Toronto — my very first show — was Mod Club in 2011,” he recalled of the now-closed concert venue.

“Now we’re doing the SkyDome back to back.”

Tesfaye only referred to the Rogers-owned venue as SkyDome throughout the night.

He never said Rogers’ name or referenced the outage that forced him to cancel just over an hour before showtime in July.

It was one of many setbacks that faced the first leg of the After Hours Til Dawn tour during a summer characterized by pandemic uncertainty for live events.

First, opening act Doja Cat dropped out due to tonsil surgery about a month before the shows began, while a large fire broke out outside the Las Vegas stadium where his fans were leaving a show in August.

Then in early September, Tesfaye lost her voice in the middle of her concert in Los Angeles, leading her to postpone the performance to a mined future date.

It looked like even Toronto’s performance could have been headed for trouble when Montreal DJ and opener Kaytranada’s mixing equipment malfunctioned, leaving the notoriously shy performer to entertain the crowd for a few minutes of silence.

“(It was) probably too hot,” he joked before returning to the music.

Fans didn’t seem to care and by the time The Weeknd took the stage, everything seemed to be going well.

The Weeknd will return to play a second show on Friday night.

His After Hours Til Dawn tour is then set to launch further legs that span Mexico, Europe, Asia and other regions, although no specific announcement on when has yet been made.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on September 22, 2022.

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