On Sunday June 4th, The Weeknd shone in his concert at Prudential Center. As he performed a mix of his hits and throwbacks for his fans from the mixtape days, a gigantic Star Destroyer loomed above him. Designed by the inventive Es Devlin and programmed by d3, the centerpiece was made up of a series of independently operational components that moved on their own and contorted creating impressive and fanciful new forms and shapes above The Weeknd.
But this impressive stage design would be meaningless if the artist did not have the charisma and talent to carry his own show. The Weeknd has both of these in spades. The sequencing of the Starboy Legend of the Fall World Tour showed an artist who knows how to curate an experience. He demonstrated this in his choice of openers—6lack, Belly, and Rae Sremmurd—as well as in the way he brought special guests out on stage. One example of this came when he brought out Nav to perform “Some Way” together, which lead to him stepping back and allowing Nav to start performing “Beibs in the Trap” by Travis Scott, during which Travis Scott came out on stage, and following the song, performed “Goosebumps” without the Kendrick Lamar verse.
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Throughout the concert The Weeknd demonstrated that he has yet to forget where he came from. Despite the accolades, and the newfound fame, he remembers what it is like to want a spotlight. The three openers were each brought out during the show to perform one of their tracks. Belly performed “Might Not” with The Weeknd, 6lack performed “PRBLMS,” and Rae Sremmurd performed “Black Beatles.” This created a sense of comradery on the stage, and showed that The Weeknd wants to share the spotlight, not hog it.
When The Weeknd was on the stage on his own, his presence electrified the audience, too. As he began to perform “Starboy,” which was the first track on the setlist, his excitement and his star power was palpable. From the start of the show until the end, the overwhelming majority of the audience was on their feet just waiting to see what The Weeknd would do next, and what shape his star destroyer would contort into.
If there was a single complaint to be had about the show it was that dancing is not yet a strength of The Weeknd’s and he seemingly used his gargantuan centerpiece and the light show that went along with it to draw a bit of attention away from his lack of dancing. The Weeknd would be well served to hire backup dancers, or to improve his dancing skills. That being said, many in the audience knew that dancing was not a strength of his and therefore, did not express disappointment to see him leaning on technology to create an impressive and immersive tour experience.
With the recent announcement of Phase Two of his Four Phase Starboy Tour adding 33 dates, it will be interesting to see how the tour evolves and changes with each set of tour dates. The Weeknd will finish Phase 1 in Europe in July, and begin Phase 2 back in North America in September.