Shakira and Jennifer Lopez’s ferocious 2020 Superbowl halftime show was always going to be tough to follow up, but Canadian pop prince The Weeknd put his best (spatted) foot forward today, performing in the break between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ and Kansas City Chiefs’ game.
As the neon lights of a Las Vegas set flickered on, we got the first of a few decoy Weeknds: this one sauntered out of a convertible and sat at the stage’s lip. Next a Christ-like figure was lowered from the roof, as an all-white-clad choir with glowing red eyes stacked high up on a bleacher set-piece was unveiled. Then, the real dude emerged: Abel Tesfaye – Grammy-winning, TikTok dance challenge-inspiring, STACK cover-having, philanthropic popstar – busted out the refain from Starboy (the titular track from his 2016 album) as about a gajillion dollars worth of pyrotechnics went off.
The ensuing themes of the show were revealed to be sparkly jackets and a lot of costume-styled full facemasks, most notably on his bevy of doppelganger dancers, whose white masks resembled y-front undies (a more tailored version of the face-bandages The Weeknd was rocking on red carpets last year).
Moving through a medley of The Hills, Can’t Feel My Face (both from 2015’s Beauty Behind the Madness), I Feel It Coming (from Starboy – with no Daft Punk appearing, unfortunately), Save Your Tears from last year’s After Hours, and Earned it (from 2015’s Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack), the show concluded with a raucous version of – what else!? – Blinding Lights.
the weeknd perfoming blinding lights ⚡⚡ pic.twitter.com/DLJTH69nGL
— . (@xotriilogy) February 8, 2021
The Weeknd brought it out onto the field for this last track, as his jockstrap-faced dancers careened between moments of upright stillness and chaotic, unsynchronised dancing, all wearing gloves with a glowing light embedded in each palm.
A neat, fam-friendly showcase of Abel’s hits, the artist’s dark side was clearly itching to come out – we’ll just have to wait for the next tour.