NEW YORK — It's not often that music fans in Bronx, New York get treated to a big time concert, but on Saturday after a pair of back-to-back shows in Manhattan the Weeknd took his show a few miles north to hip-hop's birthplace.
The crowd at the Paradise Theater lined the sidewalk on Grand Concourse and filed into the atmospheric venue which was built in 1929 and now stands as an NYC landmark. By the time Abel Tesfaye's band took the stage at 9:30 p.m., the fans who packed the orchestra and upper mezzanine seats roared to greet the Toronto singer who set the night off belting out "Lonely Star."
"It seems like pain and regret are your best friends," Tesfaye sung matching the exact pitch and emotion as the recorded version which appeared on last year's free mixtape/album Thursday.
Since dropping his trio of projects starting with House of Balloons in March 2011 and ending with Echoes of Silence in December, the Weeknd has kept himself cloaked in mystery, making few public appearances. Yet, now that his three tapes are being repacked for releases as Trilogy on Universal Republic in November, Tesfaye has come out of his shell much to his fans delight.
The silky-voiced singer ran through his emotive collection of tragic love songs like "Loft Music," "The Party & The After Party" and "What You Need" as the pre-Halloween crowd (some in costume) churned out every word.
This was Tesfaye's second time in the Boogie Down Bronx, the first was a strip club visit with BX rap hero French Montana, he would tell the crowd anecdotally. The only naked vixens were the ones on the stage's main screen, however but it's hard to imagine that a nudie bar run could ever match last night's energy.
By the time he reached the heart-breaking "Wicked Games" the Canadian singer shadow-danced back and forth and performed spin moves reminiscent of a 1980's Michael Jackson, as couples in the crowd embraced and swayed in time with the tune.
Soon after the Weeknd, who was flanked by a full band and two back-up singers, turned things up and teased the crowd into an ear-ringing frenzy before going into his opening verse on Drake's "Crew Love." The crowd ironically mouthed the entire song despite Tesfaye's boast: "This ain't a f---in' sing along."
For an encore Tesfaye marched back out to "Outside" as the stage's orange and yellow flame-like light show capped of the hottest show Bronx residences have seen in a while. What a weekend!
What's your favorite the Weeknd song? Let us know in the comments!