The Weeknd - O2 ABC, Glasgow, Thu 21 Mar 2013 (4 stars)

Abel Tesfaye's performance features flawless delivery tempered by a vulnerable stage presence

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The Weeknd - O2 ABC, Glasgow, Thu 21 Mar

As a mysterious and media-shy artist (he's never given a full interview), The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye) faced mixed anticipations at his debut Scottish appearance. Purposely performing a varied mix of songs from his dark and explicit compilation album Trilogy [compiled from the three online mixtapes that triggered much internet fascination for him], Tesfaye proved why he has accumulated such a considerable cult following over the past two years.

Combining smooth yet strong Michael Jackson-like tones with melismatic ad-libs, the 23-year-old Canadian's voice was so flawless, it contradicted his lyrical tales of late-night parties and drug abuse. Although his vocals were undaunted, Tesfaye's stage presence contained an element of vulnerability. He humbly and warily introduced himself as 'The Weeknd from a place called Toronto', as if the eager crowd at the sold-out show didn’t already know him.

Tesfaye’s personal connection with his music was evident through his unforced facial expressions and unpredictable movement, diffusing an intriguingly mellow yet energetic ambience across Glasgow’s ABC. The live band were outstanding, rocking out to tracks such as ‘The Birds’, as well as slowing things down to include a notable guitar solo during ‘The Knowing’ and the famous spine-tingling piano scale from ‘Crew Love’. The encore featured the soulful French sounds of ‘Montreal’ and an extended version of ‘Outside’, bringing the intimate, sensational and expectation-exceeding show to an end.

The Weeknd

Downbeat, soulful, R&B-infused hip hop from Canadian singer Abel Tesfaye.

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