Before this, watching footage of The Weeknd performing live is like seeing something you’re not supposed to see. He didn’t come to the U.S., and any footage I’d seen of him performing live was from shaky-handed fans in small, noisy venues in Canada. Here he is, in sunny California, in front of a massive audience, playing those dark, pain-filled songs. The falsetto is no longer smooth and polished. On that stage, it’s impossible to hide in the shadows.
Still, I was fixated on the screen just seeing Abel Tesfaye perform like this, but after that initial shock of realizing what I was witnessing, the excitement started fading fast. To be fair, he hasn’t had much time to master his live show, but hearing these songs with shaky, pitchy vocals, in a setting like this one, is a little disappointing. It almost feels like watching a horror movie on a sunny Saturday morning. It brings up some questions: Are these songs meant for a festival? Is Abel made for the stage? It will be interesting to see how his show changes as he continues his U.S. tour.