Monday, September 23, 2013
Concert review: The Weeknd’s DFW show left little to the imagination
Looping pornographic scenes dulled his shimmering falsetto.
GRAND PRAIRIE The "mature content" warning on the door of Verizon Theatre in Grand Prairie wasn't just a precautionary measure.
The sultry Canadian singer let the audience into his dark, rated-R realm Sunday night. Although the hip-hop swooner is still new to the scene on paper — his sophomore debut Kiss Land dropped on September 10 — the junior audience didn't miss a syllable during his 90-minute set. Audience members didn't flinch at the unedited lesbian pornography looping across the monolithic screens during "The Birds Pt. 1," either. But this is what it means to be enveloped by Abel Tesfaye's shadowed underworld of drug-fueled nights in the bedroom: Emotions ran rampant as he scurried the audience through his painful journey.
Tesfaye's racy lyrics and gorgeously spiraling vocals are his therapy; he works through the grief by letting his escapades free. His shaky but confident vocals resembled Michael Jackson's famous falsetto, and the single "Belong To The World" carried an incessant beat that stomped all over his pillowed vocals. At times his softer words sank beneath the dominant percussion.
The minimal backdrop gave Tesfaye the floor instead of distracting the spellbound fans. Forthright track "What You Need" was sung alongside a lone guitar much like a poet and his mic. He worked the crowd with pickup lines, spewing lyrics with emphasis or crooning through melting choruses in a sweet falsetto during more tender moments.
Jumping between Kiss Land, which debuted at #2 on the Billboard charts its first week, and 2012's Trilogy, The Weeknd offered up explicit confessions of frenzied rendezvous. Tesfaye's excited outburst, "I wanna do sexy things on top of you, Dallas!" was followed by the pounding percussive number "House of Balloons/Glass Table Girls." The audience followed him all night with no reluctance.
A sea of lighters and phones lit up the dim theater for "Wicked Games," bringing warmth to the lonely single that helped the troubled star break out in 2010.
LA-based Banks opened the evening with her fuzzy electronic catalog led by a sultry, smoky alto. "Before I Ever Met You," with polarizing melody and swelling tones, revealed her surprising hip-hop swagger. If you like the doom and gloom of Lana Del Rey, you'll love this songstress' airy vocals. Her debut EP, London, also hit stands on September 10.