The Weeknd brings spectacle and Lily-Rose Depp to SoFi

Fantasy met reality – unless it was the other way around – as The Weeknd brought its latest roadshow to SoFi Stadium on Friday night.

Friday’s concert, the first of two sold-out concerts at Inglewood’s massive NFL Palace, came near the end of the so-called After Hours Til Dawn Tour behind Weeknd’s latest albums: the long-taunted After Hours and Dawn FM the year 2020.”, which fell in January with just a few days to go. (From Los Angeles, where Canadian-born singer Abel Tesfaye has lived part-time for years, the final stop of the tour heads to his hometown of Toronto.)

But the show began with a glimpse of what’s next for The Weeknd when actress Lily-Rose Depp — his co-star in an upcoming HBO series called The Idol — appeared onstage for a dramatic To give a speech about the “hard year” they endure d. Dressed in a flowing white gown, with a cameraman circling her closely as she spoke, Depp thanked the audience for “Your Grace,” adding, “Tonight is incredibly special because I have the opportunity to tell you the love of my life Introducing the man who pulled me through the darkest hours and into the light.”

Was Depp referring to the very ugly legal battle between her father Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard? Did she hit the tabloids to reveal she and The Weeknd are in a relationship?

An overhead shot of a concert in a stadium

The Weeknd performs at SoFi Stadium.

(Hyghly Alleyne)

Or did the “Idol” team use the tens of thousands of potential extras at SoFi to film a scene for their TV show in which Depp plays a troubled pop star dealing with a mysterious club owner? The actress appeared to shake her hand as she asked “Tedros” — the name of the Weeknd character on “The Idol” — to join her on stage.

These types of blurred lines are central to Weeknd’s creative enterprise. His work, since 2011, when he surfaced online with a trilogy of shady mixtapes, depicts a sex and drug demimonde populated by dissolute people living aimless lives. The 32-year-old is actually one of the most meticulous record makers in music, a connoisseur of 1980s pop and soul, who surrounds his sweetly conjuring vocals with glittering synths, tough bass lines and slippery but driving grooves reminiscent of Michael Jackson and Depeche can mode. (As much a studio chaser as a frontman, he made way on “Dawn FM” for a tune in which Jackson’s producer Quincy Jones monologues about his complicated life over delicate “Off the Wall”-esque funk.)

At SoFi — where The Weeknd supplemented its current material with oldies like “Starboy” and “Can’t Feel My Face,” as well as versions of Drake’s “Crew Love” and Kanye West’s “Hurricane,” both of which he stars — was that music as both crisp and pulverizing loud; There was no band to be seen, although the arrangements appeared to differ slightly from his notes. His vocals conveyed emotion with laser-like intensity, particularly on the wistful “Out of Time” and “I Feel It Coming,” even amidst the booming atmosphere of a stadium.

A blond woman in a white dress on stage

Lily-Rose Depp performed at SoFi Stadium during the Weeknd concert.

(Hyghly Alleyne)

Indeed, to see the Weeknd perform at this point in his career — after his single “Blinding Lights” spent an unprecedented 90 weeks on Billboard’s Hot 100 — is to reflect on a kind of site tension. Almost all of his songs unfold in small, intimate spaces—bedrooms, cars, sweaty VIP lounges—but the scale of his success has brought him into settings geared toward mass consumption: the Super Bowl halftime show, for example, which he’s singing in 2021 , or Coachella, where he co-headlined with the Swedish House Mafia in April.

“Look at all these people!” he said Friday, pointing to SoFi’s not-so-cheap seats after thanking LA for supporting him since his days in “those little little Hollywood venues.”

A strong visual thinker before he had the resources to live up to his ambitions, the Weeknd happily fills that gap with spectacle. Here the set mixed a physical construction (including a giant inflatable moon) and digital imagery to approximate a dystopian cityscape; A phalanx of dancers in red hooded robes conjured up a vaguely occult mood as they moved in formation around the singer down a long catwalk.

The Weeknd himself began his set with a creepy mask that made him look like the victim of a botched plastic surgery – another way of playing with ideas about authenticity and illusion. But after just a few minutes, he tore off the mask to reveal the grinning nihilist inside. The Weeknd brings spectacle and Lily-Rose Depp to SoFi

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