The Weeknd’s futuristic ritual in Portugal

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The Weeknd brought another of the great musical productions of 2023 to Portugal, offering an unforgettable experience to those who passed through the Passeio Marítimo de Algés. If this was The Weeknd’s “funeral”, it was a great farewell, Abel!

Almost 20 years after Abel Tesfaye a.k.a. The Week nd made his Portuguese debut at Porto’s Primavera Sound in 2012, at the time illustriously unknown to the general public, without albums and in “band” format, having only released his debut album in 2013, “Kiss Land” and six years after the well-executed but sleepless NOS Alive concert, The Weeknd has finally returned to our country. And the evolution is huge!

On June 7, the second leg of the “After Hours Til Dawn” tour, celebrating the album “After Hours”, kicked off at the Passeio Marítimo de Algés, released in 2020 and from which the mega single “Blinding Lights” (voted the longest-running song at the top of the Billboard Hot 100, surpassing Chubby Checker’s 1960 hit “The Twist”) and the critically acclaimed album “Dawn FM”, released in January 2022, emerged.

The stage and the site

To the sound of Mike Dean and Kaytranada, over 60,000 people (according to organizers Everything Is New) entered the famous Passeio Marítimo de Algés. At the entrance, luminous wristbands featuring the same system as Coldplay were distributed. When you arrive at the venue, you’re taken aback by the gigantic stage, with the city as “Metropolis” in the background, a vast “tongue” that culminates in a central figure, a giant statue of a spinning robot woman, The Weeknd’s inspirational muse, who is worshipped throughout the concert and, in the background, a giant moon that forms the spectacular backdrop to the show (allow us to be redundant). The statue is a work by Japanese artist Hajime Sorayama, also influenced by the reference to the 1927 film “Metropolis”.

 

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But there’s a catch… such a scene and such a production would have been fantastic if everyone present had been able to enjoy this futuristic experience that The Weeknd (and his team) prepared down to the last detail. Clearly, the Passeio Marítimo de Algés is not the ideal venue. It’s fair to say that most of those present couldn’t see everything that was happening on stage, and those who did saw it through vertical screens. It lacked a stadium like Coldplay, or bleachers, which could have provided the ideal environment, even the effect of the wristbands was lost, being only a prop to the show and not a point in favor of the image as in the already mentioned case of Coldplay. As for access, it becomes almost redundant to talk about the difficulty of arriving and leaving the venue. A CP strike turned arriving home into a little hell. We are eagerly awaiting the promised zone tickets, which Oeiras Town Hall has been talking about for a long time. There’s also the very tricky question of the acoustics of the space, but in this case, nothing to report: a sound with a fairly high volume, good definition and good projection.

The Weeknd's futuristic ritual in PortugalThe Weeknd's futuristic ritual in Portugal

At the appointed hour, the first chords of “Take My Breath” were heard, and hundreds of cell phones rang to record the triumphant entrance of several characters dressed in white, worshipping the robotic goddess and the moon, who wandered around the stage for the duration of the concert. For most of the first hour, The Weeknd wore a mask, reminiscent of English rapper MF Doom. Barely visible and blending into the background was the phenomenal band Abel had brought with him, and that was to be expected… Powerful rhythms, guitar solos and majestic keyboards illuminated the main point, which is naturally Abel Tesfaye.

Friendly, fun-loving and communicative, Abel thanked and congratulated the Portuguese audience, making several puns with song lyrics using “Lisbon” and “Portugal”, promising not to stay so long without returning. “I love you guys! We’re going to have fun for two hours”.

For two hours, the big hits that have made The Weeknd a global star and one of the most listened-to artists on streaming platforms, such as “Starboy”, “Can’t Feel My Face”, “I Feel It Coming”, “Die for You” and, of course, the mega-single “Blindin Lights”, transported the audience into total ecstasy.

“Out of Time”, the song The Weeknd revealed to be his favorite from “Dawn FM” and in his top 10 best songs of all time, was not so enthusiastically received by the crowd. But it was with “The Hills” that the temperature rose and the metropolis was covered in flames, a brutal scene to behold and one of the most fantastic visual moments of the evening came with “I Was Never There”, with vertical beams of light pointing skywards and surrounding the silver muse, in a veritable dystopian ritual.

Rain was forecast and looked set to spoil the evening, but it arrived with more intensity for an apotheotic finale and encore with “Double Fantasy”, “Creepin’ (Metro Boomin cover)” and “Popular”. The Weeknd’s triumphant return to Lisbon! If this tour really means the end of the name “The Weeknd”, as the artist recently suggested, it was a happy and memorable funeral. But only time will tell what Abel Tesfaye’s future path will be.

The Weeknd's futuristic ritual in Portugal

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