By Saad Siddiq
“Anaheim, you ready?” These words, spoken as Abel Tesfaye, also known as The Weeknd, arose from the ground, like a phoenix reborn, helped kick off the most epic night in music for many fans.
Though the Legend of the Falls Phase 2 tour is headlined by The Weeknd, he was appropriately joined by two close collaborators Nav and Gucci Mane. Despite these high profile names, the Honda Center was mostly empty for the opener and midliner as fans were anxiously waiting for the arrival of Abel. Despite that, both Nav and Gucci Mane put on a show. Utilizing an array of lights and other special effects, Nav and Gucci Mane hyped up the crowd with banger after banger, preparing them for the most awe-inspiring experience of their lives.
The Weeknd masterfully controlled the tone and energy level of his set, constantly switching between upbeat and energetic bops to downtrodden tunes of loss and denial. At the same time, a structure above the stage was moving along with his melodies. He took the crowd on a journey, touching upon subjects of fame, success, heartbreak and drug use. His face contorted in agony when he spoke on topics that clearly held a painful reminder but also flashing a smile when the themes of money and fame came up. Between each song, Abel was constantly reminded of his rabid fan base who consistently rewarded him by making the XO symbol with their hands and filling the Honda Center with their ear-piercing shrieks and screams. Their extended applause brought The Weeknd to his knees as he was overcome with the magnitude of his influence over those who enjoy his music. Finally, arising with a large smile on his face, he quietly said, “Anaheim, you all are a riot” and broke out into “Can’t Feel My Face.”
Though his melodies would have been enough to enthrall the rabid hordes of XO fans, The Weeknd took it a step further with an assortment of flashing strobe lights and lasers that helped set the tone. However, the pièce de résistance was a giant structure suspended above the stage that moved along and changed colors to the beats of Abel’s music. The structure continually shifted throughout the set: turning into a spaceship during “Starboy,” but then shifting into a heart when Abel performed “Wicked Games.” It captivated the audience and added to the mood and helped to bring The Weeknd’s music to life.
The Weeknd delighted fans to a night of ecstasy and euphoria as much of the crowd had been following him since his first mixtape drop. This concert brought together good music, good company and good showmanship to create a once in a lifetime experience.