Toronto-based singer Abel Tesfaye, aka fast-rising alternative R’n’B star The Weeknd, has a sweet way of talking dirty.
The Weeknd - ABC, Glasgow
* * *
His pure falsetto, fluent runs and pitch-perfect delivery have attracted vocal comparisons with Michael Jackson – which, judging by this relatively brief encounter, are merited – but the purity ends at his tone.
According to his lyrics, Tesfaye’s intentions are as explicit as that of your average priapic rapper.
Not for him the teasing sexy talk of the soul crooner. But neither is he your typical 21st-century R’n’B stud – Tesfaye’s invitation to party inhabits more downbeat, trip-hop-influenced territory.
Though the lights were turned down low at this show, bathing the stage in chillout-room blues and purples, his whispered nothings were accompanied by a meatier live sound from his assured band, with more liberal application of clubby bass on the somewhat sinister slow jam High For This, which recounts a drug-fuelled seduction, and brief salvos of pumping techno during Crew Love.
Remember You, originally performed with rapper Wiz Khalifa, was more sexist than sexy – but that was no deterrent for this rampant, screaming audience.
The Knowing, actually quite a queasy, almost stalkerish song, allowed both Tesfaye and his guitarist to show off their respective powerhouse chops.
There were glimpses of more eclectic tastes scattered through the set. House of Balloons made prominent use of a Siouxsie and the Banshees sample, while epic encore number Montreal borrowed wholesale from Serge Gainsbourg’s Laisser Tomber Les Filles for its melodic hook. Les filles, for their part, were definitely ready for The Weeknd.