The Weeknd made his NYC-area stadium debut with spectacular MetLife Stadium show (pics, review)

The Weeknd made his NYC-area stadium debut with spectacular MetLife Stadium show (pics, review)Published: July 17, 2022photo by Toby Tenenbaum

“I want to do something bigger and special for you which requires stadiums,” The Weeknd said when he upgraded his 2022 arena tour to his first-ever stadium tour. The tour was originally supposed to happen in 2020, the same year The Weeknd released After Hours, but COVID got in the way, and in the time since then, he blessed the entire country with his arsenal of hits during the 2021 Super Bowl Halftime Show and released another new album, Dawn FM, hence this tour being named the After Hours til Dawn tour, as it supports both Dawn FM and After Hours. The two new albums (which are reportedly part of a planned trilogy) are two of his best and most widely acclaimed yet, which makes this the perfect time for The Weeknd to enter the realm of stadium shows. On one hand, he has a greatest hits’ worth of crowd pleasing singles dating back over a decade, and on the other, he’s fresh off releasing some of the best music of his career.

The Weeknd’s NYC-area stadium debut at MetLife Stadium on Saturday (7/16) was indeed a spectacle, complete with a stage backdrop mimicking a city skyline, a runway the length of the entire stadium floor with platforms in the middle and at the end, a big suspended moon above the end platform, pyro, a laser light show, ominous cloaked dancers, and light-up wristbands that were handed out to the crowd, but for the most part, The Weeknd commanded the sold-out stadium crowd off the strength of his voice and songs alone. There were no other musicians in sight, the dancers were more part of the overall aesthetic than stars of the show – Abel Tesfaye himself was the heart and soul of this concert. And for the most part, that was all you needed. His setlist was impeccable, with every hit you could think of, choice cuts from his two newest albums, and classic collabs like “Crew Love” with Drake, “Low Life” with Future, and “Or Nah” with Ty Dolla $ign.

From before he even took the stage, to the moment the lights came back up around 10:40 (no encore), the crowd was eating it all up. Chants of “ABEL” echoed through the stadium before his set — the crowd was already hyped up due to opening DJ sets from Mike Dean and Kaytranada — and the entire crowd rose to their feet the second the lights went down just before his 9PM start time. The energy never lulled once throughout the night, and almost everyone that was in earshot of me was dancing and singing to every song. Even the deeper cuts held just as much power as the chart-topping hits (of which he has quite a few). The Super Bowl already cemented him as a motherfuckin’ starboy, but this was a triumphant reaffirmation.

What makes Dawn FM one of his best albums since his early game-changing mixtapes is that it reminds you that The Weeknd is at his best when he’s at his darkest and weirdest, and the MetLife Stadium show reminded you of that too. This was stadium-sized, crowdpleasing pop music, but from his visuals to his backing tracks, it was clear that this was dark pop music. (He also dropped the trailer for his new HBO show The Idol, coming from “the sick and twisted minds” of Abel and Euphoria creator Sam Levinson, before his set.) The Weeknd has become such a full-blown pop star that it’s almost hard to remember the days when he was a mysterious singer with a free online mixtape that the indie blogs were buzzing over, but the After Hours til Dawn tour reminds you that he still is an enigma at heart… an enigma that sells out stadiums.

More photos of the whole night by Toby Tenenbaum, some fan-shot videos, the setlist, and all remaining tour dates below.

Update: the trailer for The Idol is officially out now:

The Weeknd @ MetLife Stadium – 7/16/22 Setlist (via)
Alone Again
Gasoline
Sacrifice (Swedish House Mafia Remix)
How Do I Make You Love Me?
Can't Feel My Face
Take My Breath
Hurricane (Kanye West song)
The Hills
Often
Crew Love (Drake song)
Starboy
Heartless
Low Life (Future song)
Or Nah (Ty Dolla $ign song)
Kiss Land
Party Monster
Faith
After Hours
Out of Time
I Feel It Coming
Die for You
Is There Someone Else?
I Was Never There
Wicked Games
Call Out My Name
The Morning
Save Your Tears
Less Than Zero
Blinding Lights

The Weeknd — 2022 Tour Dates
THU 21-Jul Boston, MA Gillette Stadium*
SUN 24-Jul Chicago, IL Soldier Field*
WED 27-Jul Detroit, MI Ford Field*
SAT 30-Jul Washington, DC FedEx Field*
THU 4-Aug Tampa, FL Raymond James Stadium*
SAT 6-Aug Miami, FL Hard Rock Stadium*
THU 11-Aug Atlanta, GA Mercedes-Benz Stadium^
SUN 14-Aug Arlington, TX AT&T Stadium^
THU 18-Aug Denver, CO Empower Field at Mile High*
SAT 20-Aug Las Vegas, NV Allegiant Stadium*
TUE 23-Aug Vancouver, BC BC Place*
THU 25-Aug Seattle, WA Lumen Field^
SAT 27-Aug San Francisco, CA Levi’s Stadium^
TUE 30-Aug Phoenix, AZ State Farm Stadium*
FRI 2-Sep Los Angeles, CA SoFi Stadium*
SAT 3-Sep Los Angeles, CA SoFi Stadium*

*With Kaytranada and Mike Dean
^With Snoh Aalegra and Mike Dean