The Weeknd’s homecoming was a significant moment in Toronto

Last night, at a sold-out Rogers Center in downtown Toronto, about 16 miles from his native Scarborough, The Weeknd held a triumphant victory lap in his home city on the After Hours Til Dawn tour.

But it wasn’t just a win for Abel Tesfaye. The surprisingly multi-generational crowd was there to celebrate with one of them.

“My first show in Toronto… my first show ever, was in 2011,” he said after “Starboy,” during the nearly two-hour set. “Now we’re doing it back to back in the SkyDome.”

There were no big surprises. No reunions on stage. It was just Abel, and that’s all the 45,000 fans from their hometown wanted or needed.

And they had waited a long time. The first attempt to bring After Hours home in July was delayed several hours earlier due to a nationwide outage in the Rogers network that left some of the phones in the country dark. Then Toronto fans got scared earlier this month when Abel stopped midway through his Los Angeles show after losing his voice. But Thursday night everything went according to plan.

And The Weeknd was able to give all the energy to the Toronto faithful, including one in the front row holding an “Abel I went to West Hill (Collegiate Institute)” sign, just to show how close people are here. feel with the homegrown superstar. The 45,000, mostly all night alone on the gigantic floor length, save for his druid dancers, stopped Abel dead in his tracks with their chants several times.

“My first show in Toronto… my first show ever, was in 2011. Now we’re doing it back to back at the SkyDome.”

It was pretty obvious that this was no ordinary tour stop for the man himself either, starting with the not-so-correctly scaled CN Tower in the background scenery on the main stage. The buildings first sparkled when Abel came off the air for an intro to Dawn FM selections, then go up in flames with hair-raising ferocity on 2015’s “The Hills” Beauty behind the madness. Towards the end, the crumbling metropolis sparkled again, and Abel was there to play both the Dark Knight and Joker of his own Gotham, the hero and always the villain at the same time.

But that skyline, which accompanies him on every tour date, just feels like Toronto when you’re in Toronto. And he was there to remind the crowd that this was his home as much as theirs.

“Toronto, look what you bastard did,” he said during “Starboy,” geotagging the lyrics lightly. “Toronto, do you love me?” He asked on ‘Wicked Games’ and took fans back to the beginning with 2011’s House of Balloons (a Toronto lore location), and it was not so much a question as an acknowledgment of interdependence in the most positive sense.

“Who was at my first show?” He asked for a huge round of applause, but pointed out that only a small group of fans at Rogers Center could fill the cozy Mod Club.

Given the epic nature of the current tour and The Weeknd’s past tours, it’s hard to imagine its humble beginnings. Mike Dean’s ecclesiastical yet demonic synth treatment (who also opened up) added so much power to Abel’s older hits that it’s hard to imagine they exist any other way than to fill a cavernous stadium. Tesfaye also manages to hit the cheap chairs with a cross head or tongue movement.

The show started quickly and ended with a little extra time on the clock, forcing fans to wait after the house lights came on in case there was a surprise in store. In the end, The Weeknd was content with no one-off stunts, or reinforcements. In a little over a decade, The Weeknd made the four-kilometer journey from a small Toronto club to the biggest stadium, but in the meantime it meant developing from a secretive singer with barely any photos on Google into one of the most visible people in the world. . planet. And his fellow Torontonians were more than happy to celebrate that fact. They came to see one of them.

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