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The musical evolution of The Weeknd seems ironically organic. His tepid strokes into graphic sexual escapades–littered with ostensible alcohol and drug use–have inevitably become his audible trademark. The Weeknd (born Abel Tesfaye) still hasn’t managed to outgrow his lyrical deviancy, though–he just figured out a better way to sing it. And this past Thursday at Worcester’s DCU Center, the Canadian crooner’s grandiosity reigned supreme as heavy-lidded listeners were swept away for nearly 2 hours into his sunless–albeit lust-ridden–reality.
“The Madness” fall tour–unlike previous live Weeknd efforts–didn’t exacerbate graphic pornographic images in order to drive his brazen hedonism across. The beauty lay in his strategic restraint and monumental release. He opened his set with the harrowing “Real Life” performing from a cage-like enclosure. As he frenetically glided through sexually sinister songs such as “Acquainted” and “Often,” the stage was elevated to nearly god-like altitudes. Aside from strobe lights, video screens and a 3-piece band, The Weeknd’s set ultimately capitalized on his voice and the raw, surly energy projected from the crowd.
Every song from The Weeknd’s arsenal was primed to be a bonafide sing-a-long, although his nefarious persona encourages fans to assume otherwise. The shut-in snapshot of “Tell Your Friends” almost comes off as ornamental when juxtaposed to the rest of his catalogue (but when done live made for one hell of a call and response); the sensuality of “Earned It” was mired in gravelly cliches yet flowed effortlessly off the tongues of concert-goers. “Can’t Feel My Face” was layered in bombast and narcotic ooze, while the ravenous nature of “The Hills” kept everyone in attendance well fed. But perhaps it was most fitting that he ended the night with “Wicked Games,” a song where he mercilessly detonates titular demands on his chosen muse of the moment. And for what it was worth, Worcester had no qualms about bending to the will of The Weeknd.
Pax Labs is an official co-sponsor of “The Madness” fall tour. Visit them at paxvapor.com