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The Weeknd review: Starboy shines like a rock star at London's O2 Arena but misfires with set list

The Weeknd

Sitting comfortably at the peak of his career, it is perfect timing that The Weeknd headlined London's O2 Arena. The Starboy singer performed on, arguably, the biggest stage of his career to date with his first night at the iconic venue on 7 March.
The Weeknd's European tour has been a long time coming for fans who were left disappointed when he pulled out of supporting Rihanna on her 2016 tour. So was the Starboy: Legend Of The Fall tour worth the wait? IBTimes UK watched to find out...
Our verdict
The Weeknd – Starboy: Legend Of The Fall tour
    
The Weeknd
The Weeknd performed a wide range of his hits including Can't Feel My Face, The Hills and Earned ItMARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images
When The Weeknd, real name Abel Tesfaye, reached super stardom with the release of his critically-acclaimed second album Beauty Behind The Madness, it seemed like a no-brainer that he would tour with that record. However after listening to the eclectic Starboy, it is now easy to see how this album makes for more of a well-rounded tour show.
Following a rousing supporting set from Bryson Tiller, who delivered his trademark fusion of r'n'b and trap, a star-shaped neon-lit ceiling descended onto the main stage before welcoming the star of the show. The Weeknd's presence was immediately warming with the Canadian crooner running into the middle of the audience thanks to a centre stage which served as more of a runway.
Fast-forward four years and The Weeknd has attracted a varied, albeit slightly more commercial, crowd who lap up the thumping Party Monster, bop their heads to the hip hop tones of Six Feet Under and sway to Earned It. The setlist can not be faulted for offering something for everyone – he is careful to honour early fans who became enchanted with his stunning falsettos on Drake's Crew Love back in 2012 but then, of course, focuses primarily on the Starboy and Beauty Behind The Madness catalogue.It is heart-warming to see how far the 27-year-old has come in a short space of time – early fans will remember the singer performing at Camden's Electric Ballroom in 2013. That was a show filled with mixtape hits and, by comparison, a much smaller catalogue. It also boasted a much moodier tone appealing to stoners and those enamoured with the singer's darker-tinged r'n'b.
Where the set list does suffer is the positioning of songs. The majority of The Weeknd's biggest singles to date – Earned It, Can't Feel My Face and Starboy – are camouflaged somewhere in the middle with little build-up. The Hills is undoubtedly a popular number but it is mind-boggling that the haunting track was preceded by the feel-good, Daft Punk-produced I Feel It Coming to end the show.
The Weeknd Starboy album
The Weeknd reached number one on the US Billboard 200 chart with his third album StarboyRepublic
Still, all are little blips in what was otherwise a fantastically entertaining one-man show. The Weeknd's vocals never faltered and, even with little-to-no interaction with the audience, he mastered being able to engage and connect with fans purely through music.
Drake, The Weeknd's Canadian counterpart, performed a sold-out seven-night residency at London's O2 Arena in March and still has a couple more to go. Three years ago, it would have been glaringly obvious that Drake was the bigger superstar out of the two but that gap is quickly closing. Just like Drake, The Weeknd had epic staging with one major prop, delivered a one-man show and spoke only through the music. Drake certainly spring-boarded his protege's success but The Weeknd has proved he can confidently hold hold his own like the true rock star he has become.
The Weeknd's Starboy: Legend Of The Fall tour continues on 8 March at London's O2 Arena. The singer will also return to the UK this summer to headline Wireless Festival on 9 July.

Listen to The Weeknd's Starboy:

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