Since the last time Abel Tesfaye, better known as The Weeknd, stood on the Hydro stage, as the diffident support act to his fellow Canadian R&B star Drake, his popularity has skyrocketed, with current album Starboy setting a new streaming record only recently overturned by Ed Sheeran.
This time round, he brought his own flash headline show and some cheerleading pop star stage presence – though not quite enough to compete with the huge neon palette which was lowered over the audience then tilted over their heads where it remained for the duration of the show, while Tesfaye worked the catwalk through the crowd, and a black-clad backing trio brought the bass.
The Weeknd ***
Tesfaye possesses a beautiful seductive tenor voice, which bears comparison with Michael Jackson in his more tender moments but, in moving away from his atmospheric trip-hop roots to a more commercial R&B sound, he has sacrificed some of his je ne sais quoi and here his immaculate falsetto was wasted on the standard dance track Rockin’.
Despite his more energetic efforts, the overall lack of dynamics started to dull the shine of the show, but the middle of the set was energised by a cluster of his best tracks, including his breakthrough disco-inflected hit Can’t Feel My Face swiftly followed up with the R&B swing of In The Night, then his Fifty Shades torch song Earned It.
Much of the set was bulldozed by the quaking weapons-grade bass, which found its rightful home among the almost metallic electro of the heavy duty encore.