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Concert Reviews:
The Weeknd's Starboy Tour conquers at The Palace

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

Posted: Wednesday, May 31, 2017

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AUBURN HILLS -- The weekend came early for about 14,000 at The Palace, thanks to The Weeknd.

“Is this the biggest party in Michigan?” the Canadian pop/R&B singer asked the crowd, a few times, during his Starboy: Legend of the Fall Tour stop on Wednesday night, May 24. The answer was, of course, in the affirmative -- and, in fact, an accurate reception for the 24-song, nearly 90-minute show that managed to keep the energy level high even during its most chill numbers and finished with a buoyant flurry that made for perfect prep for the upcoming holiday weekend.

Most impressive was that The Weeknd (real name Abel Tesfaye) pulled everything off with a minimum of the glitz and spectacle that’s indigenous to his genre. Yes, the staging was high tech, marked by a moveable overhead lighting rig that often resembled an Imperial cruiser from “Star Wars,” with lasers accenting several of the songs.

But there were no dancers, pyrotechnics or even confetti, and it was The Weekend himself who did the night’s heavy lifting. Dressed in all black save for white high-top sneakers and backed by a three-piece band and plenty of sampled backing vocals, he spent most of his time prowling long ramp that jutted nearly the full length of the Palace floor, executing a brisk, flowing delivery of the set with minimal between-song chatter and hype.

Focusing primarily on his two hit albums -- 2015’s “Beauty Behind The Madness” and last year’s “Starboy,” the 27-year-old hit all the his career high points, from the latter’s title track, which opened the show, to the lone encore of “The Hills.” In between came plenty of hits and fan favorites, including a particularly powerful rendering of “Wicked Games,” along with covers of Future’s “Low Life,” Drake’s “Crew Love” and Ty Dolla $ign’s “Or Nah,” which The Weeknd guested on.

He also used his opening acts to let him catch his breath at various points of the set, with Rae Sremmurd not surprisingly drawing the best reception for “Black Beatles” after Belly joined The Weeknd for “Might Not” and 6LACK performed “PRBLMS.” Those set up some fierce pairings, including the bouncy “In The Night” into the aptly named “Rockin’” and a blast of “Secrets,” “Can’t Feel My Face” and the anthemic “I Feel It Coming” that closed the main set.

The Weeknd has accomplished quite a bit during the past three years, including two chart-topping albums and six Top 10 singles. And on Wednesday night he made it seem like he won’t be stopping any time soon.

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