Review: The Weeknd At Apple Music Festival – A Reflection

Art & Culture

I confess, I’ve always had suspicions about The Weeknd. His is the sort of music that tricks my brain into thinking it is ‘innovative’ auto-tuning. How can there be such a thing? It tricks it to the extent whereby I don’t just switch off, but begin to resent the success of someone whose work sounds like the produce of tech rather than talent. I’m already half way up my soapbox, so I’ll stop here and step back down. 

So why did I go? I went because I wanted to have my mind changed.

How much more wrong could I have been about Abel Tesfaye’s voice? If I find it grating on the radio, it’s because I’m distracted and probably in an unforgiving mood. In the flesh however, and it is something else. If anything, I have developed a massive respect for the guy. He has an amazing, unique voice, and harnesses his talent in an effective way. Would that voice sound the same when applied to other genres of music? I’m not sure. 

When The Weeknd enters the stage, he is effectively alone – his band have been raised up on a platform about 12 feet high. The way I’m describing it may make it sound cool and different, in reality we know it’s something else. With big name artists, come even bigger egos. It is easy to see the stage set up in such a way and immediately criticise. Images of Kanye West come to mind. I need to give The Weeknd credit though; he actually backs up the ballsy move to hog the whole stage by managing and controlling it with ease. Yes, he is egocentric to a certain degree, but egomaniacal to the West degree? No, he is far more controlled and it’s actually really refreshing to see a 25-year-old use the stage so well.

His set is polished, it is clear that there is a set list in place, timed to perfection, with a brief encore to sing ‘Wicked Games’, just for the amount of love UK fans show him. Really? My friend you’ve just taken yourself down a notch! Don’t spaff out the same old line every American artists claims with wholehearted sincerity! [insert inappropriate emoji]

I can’t write this without shouting out to Grace Mitchell. She’s been compared to Lorde as well as Lana del Rey, and there is certainly reason for it. She’s a quality singer, if a little bit awkward on stage. Hold the phone, SHE’S STILL A TEENAGER! That superficial stuff like stage presence will come in due course, but for now she’s got raw talent to get along on. Watch this space. 

Last little thing I want to say is about Apple. It is after all, the Apple Music Festival. It’s super slick, with the ultra-clean branding we’re all so accustomed to. Whether you love Apple or not, you have to give it to them, they put on a class show, with Germanic efficiency. 

Finally, credit due to The Weeknd as a whole, you changed my mind for good – nice one Abel.