Everything We Saw ‘After Hours’ at The Weeknd Show at Detroit’s Ford Field | Detroit
A sold-out crowd of 45,000 packed into Detroit’s Ford Field on Wednesday night for the fifth leg of The Weeknd’s “After Hours Til Dawn” tour. After three postponements due to the pandemic and a shift from arenas to stadiums, expectations were high for the 2021 Super Bowl performer, and he was more than up for the challenge.
Born Abel Tesfaye, the Canadian singer entered the stage masked, dressed all in black against a background of deafening bass. A giant projection screen stood behind it showing still images of a city while decrepit clay-colored replicas of that same city were placed all over the stage, and a long pier-like platform stretched from the stage at the east end of the stadium, with a huge inflatable moon hanging just below the Detroit Lions LED screens. More than 20 dancers dressed as if they came from The Curse of La Llorona surrounded the stage.
Make no mistake, The Weeknd is a certified, bonafide R&B and pop superstar with Grammys and album sales to back it up. For a time early in his career, he felt like he might be relying too much on a Michael Jackson Thriller-aesthetic type, but this is no longer the case. The Weeknd has established his own brand of darkness, where he sings tales of love, lust, pain and purpose. Much like he did on his “Starboy” tour in 2017, he romances and celebrates his darkness.
The Weeknd kicked off his set with mesmerizing performances of “Alone Again” and “Gasoline,” ditching his mask and diving straight into “Sacrifice,” “How Do I Make You Love Me” and “Can’t Feel My Face.” The set drawn from songs from all his albums (including Kiss the earth, The beauty behind the madness, starboy, after hoursand Dawn FM), punctuated by fires and explosions via pyrotechnics, lasers and lights synchronized with luminous bracelets distributed to the public before the show. Unlike other concerts, there were no times when the crowd seemed more enthusiastic about some songs than others; fans made as much noise for “I Feel It Coming” as they did for “Die For You” – in fact, it was like everyone knew the lyrics to every song.
In the end, if you stripped out the lasers, pyrotechnics, and dancers, it was a well-executed business trip for The Weeknd. There was no live band, no surprise guest, no visible DJ (or musical accompaniment), no wardrobe change, and no encore. The Weeknd never took a break during his 100-minute set and didn’t chat much (apart from a small joke with the crowd about how the Chicago fans were a little louder).
Unsurprisingly to no one, The Weeknd closed the show with a rousing rendition of his most successful song to date, “Blinding Lights,” a retro 80s-style track that stayed on. Billboardin the top 10 for an entire year (and became the unofficial theme song for the Netflix show stranger things). By the end of the song, the dancers had made their exit and The Weeknd took several curtsies, blew victorious kisses to the crowd and left the stage through shouts and shouts of approval. —Kahn Santori Davison