R&B crooner Abel Tesfaye, aka the Weeknd, treated crowd at Mod Club to a sort of preview of new album Beauty Behind the Madness.
Music, Published on Wed Aug 26 2015
At the Mod Club, Aug. 25
He’s earned it all right.
The climatic moment in the Weeknd’s recent video for his chart-topping hit “Can’t Feel My Face” occurs when the singer is set on fire by an audience member while performing. He finishes the song “Human Torch” style, his skin unblemished as the flames engulf him.
The metaphor expressed in the video applied to the hottest ticket in town on Tuesday night, when alt R&B crooner Abel Tesfaye, a.k.a. the Weeknd, treated a capacity crowd at the Mod Club to a preview of sorts of his new album out Friday, Beauty Behind the Madness.
With a crowd of 620 onlookers that included artists Francesco Yates and Kardinal Offishall, new Bell Media entertainment production president Randy Lennox and his Universal Music Canada replacement Jeffrey Remedios, several hundred Virgin Radio contest winners and those lucky enough to grab $9.99 tickets, Tesfaye and his three-piece band zigzagged from past to present during an exuberant hour-long set that signaled the arrival of Canada’s — nay, Toronto’s — next international superstar.
Yeah, you could argue that the Weeknd, who will kick off his world tour with a Nov. 3 Air Canada Centre date (tickets are on sale Friday), has already reached that pinnacle — especially since he owns two of the five top-selling songs on Billboard this week — but one got the feeling with this concert that Tesfaye is only beginning to come into his own.
Starting with “Losers,” an aggressive new up-tempo Beauty track, the man with the gravity-defying hair and equally buoyant falsetto bounced around the stage like he had something to prove, and spun through a quick succession of three more soon-to-be-R&B classics — “Tell Your Friends,” “Acquainted” and “In the Morning” — before he returned, as he put it, “to 2011” for House of Balloons’ “High for This.”
At that point, the show became more of a communal event, with the crowd serenading Tesfaye with the lyrics from “Often” and “Glass Table Girls” as he echoed their words.
The crowd lost it when he briefly detoured with Drake’s “Crew Love” (which he initially contributed vocals to) and sang along intensely to his hit ballad
“Earned It” from the film Fifty Shades of Grey, Tesfaye’s impressive falsetto effortlessly gliding into stratospheric octaves.
The funky “Can’t Feel My Face” got the whole joint jumping to the point you could feel the floor move under your feet, and Tesfaye cajoled the audience to “go motherf—ing crazy” for “The Hills,” before returning for an acoustic-driven, slightly accelerated version of “Wicked Games” to close out the set.
In a club that hosted the Weeknd’s very first gig and one he keeps coming back to, it was an evening his fans won’t soon forget.