The Weeknd, Banks Bayou Music Center September 25, 2013
There were signs posted outside the Bayou Music Center Tuesday night that read "Tonight Show Contains Mature Content." Now, when it comes to an artist who seemingly knows no boundaries when it comes to lyrical content, a "mature content" caveat is one of the things that comes with the territory. The Weeknd, after all, is one of the few songwriters who rivals Kanye in the "did he really just say that?" category.
That said, it was a weird sign to have posted up on the doors. It's the type of sign that gets the mind turning, half to wonder how mature things might get, and half to worry if this is going to be one of those shows where tits and ass are the smoke and mirrors used to distract from an underwhelming live show.
Whatever expectations might have been set, the show itself was something almost completely different. The Weeknd may write songs focusing more on lust than love and the dark side of romance, and while Kiss Land may in fact be a dark place, live the man knows how to have a good time.
On a broad level, the show challenges expectations about just how people perceive Abel Tesfaye. On record his music is unflinchingly dark; sensual, but in a very melancholy sort of way. There's a good chance if a song by The Weeknd defines your relationship, that relationship has issues. Yet as he made his way across the stage he was all smiles and dance moves, completely at ease. The bulk of the stage was clear, giving him ample room to maneuver and making it clear he's the star, yet he stopped multiple times to mention his band by their names, which is a heck of lot more than a lot of artists do.
The show also takes fans on a trip to Kiss Land -- the location also serves as the name of his new album -- which is basically a seedy version of Tokyo straight out of Enter the Void, drug use, neon lights, naked girls and all. For an album that's only been out a few weeks, the crowd seemed to know all the new material, and Abel and his crew delivered powerful versions of that new material, including a damn near apocalyptic version of "Pretty" and a banging version of "Belong to the World."
But it was the classics that got the crowd singing the loudest. "Glass Table Girls" is a lot more funky and energetic live, and damn near everyone in the building knew the words to "Remember You." Across the board, new songs and old, Abel's voice was rock solid, hitting all the notes and even singing his crowd instructions a few times.
Review continues on the next page.