After two years since the Weeknd released his record-breaking fourth studio album, the "After Hours," and announced a global tour, the R&B pop idol is back with a vengeance to give fans the tour they have been waiting for on the “After Hours ’til Dawn” world tour.
The original plans for the "After Hours" tour were postponed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the spike in cases around the release of the album in March 2020. The tour, which was slated to start in June 2020, had to be pushed back into early 2022. But before the shows could even start, the Weeknd announced in late October 2021 that the tour was canceled while promising something bigger and better on the horizon.
The 32-year-old Canadian artist delivered on his promises. After the release of his fifth studio album, "Dawn FM," the singer released new dates in an all new world tour. With bigger venues, the tour was shortened from 59 shows and venues worldwide to nearly 20 shows with more to be announced for the European and Asian legs of the tour.
I was lucky enough to have bought tickets to two shows from the original "After Hours" 2020 tour. When the tour was canceled and I was refunded for my purchases, I bought another ticket for the new tour date at State Farm Stadium on Aug. 30.
Doors opened at 4 p.m., and I was ecstatic to be able to walk across the expanse of the field to get to my seat near the stage where I was able to get a full view of the intricate and daunting backdrop. An eerie city skyline was the setting for the overdue show of a lifetime, lit up by smoke and spotlights.
Around 6:30 p.m., opener Mike Dean began with an electro pop mix. An hour later opener DJ Kaytranada took to the stage to perform his top hits. After the controversial departure of Doja Cat as an opener, the first act was somewhat underwhelming. I still found myself bobbing my head along to the few songs I did recognize.
Finally—when the sun set and the stadium was full of fans packed in from the floor to the rows of seats that nearly touched the roof—the Weeknd took the stage and brought out the fire and flashing lights, flaunting the Vegas lights inspiration from his most recent album.
A culmination of two albums and three years of bubbling anticipation, the show stretched for an hour and a half with every new song bringing a crowd-pleaser. Taking from new and old albums alike, the Weeknd paid tribute to some of the songs that made him a household name.
He opened strong with the dark, but delicate opening track from the "After Hours" album, "Alone Again." Alongside masked red-draped dancers, the Weeknd performed a handful of the somber and electro-rock songs from his "Beauty Behind the Madness" 2015 era; several funk and upbeat tracks from his record-breaking 2016 "Starboy" album; and even performed his song "Kiss Land" from his very first studio album from 2013. It was an ethereal experience for fans who have stuck around for so long and hadn’t heard the song being performed live in nine years.
The closing medley was made up of some of the Weeknd's most popular songs from his previous two albums. The show ended with a bang that concluded with the record-breaking "Blinding Lights" that had every phone light in the air. With the addition of the oversized moon and the crowd of thousands singing along, it felt like a dream being able to stand in a stadium full of people excited to finally be able to see some of their favorite songs performed live for the first time.
With stellar vocals, effortless crowd interaction and control, as well as the over-the-top light show, the Weeknd put on what I would consider to be one of the best live shows I’ve ever been to.
From the amount of jumping, shouting and screaming I did, the smoke smell that lingered in my hair, and the crowd joining in to sing portions of popular ballads such as "After Hours," "Die For You," and "Call Out My Name," it’s safe to say that the massive success of the ticket sales for this tour speaks for itself.
The "After Hours ‘Til Dawn" World Tour is a worldwide phenomenon and with two more shows on the U.S. and Canadian leg of the tour, I recommend anyone with the means to buy tickets—no matter where they are in the stadium—to go.
When the tour was first announced two years ago, I repeated this mantra to myself: "I would make my money back eventually, but I would never be nineteen again seeing the Weeknd perform to a sold-out stadium."
It was an experience unlike any other that precedes anything he’s done before and makes me hopeful and excited to see what he does next.
Edited by Claire van Doren, Logan Stanley and Kristen Apolline Castillo.
Analisa Valdez is a reporter with the Echo, focusing on covering the arts and entertainment world. Analisa has been apart of the State Press for two and a half years and is in her third year at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.