BY RYON HORNE
“Atlanta, this is the biggest party in the city,” screamed The Weeknd during his sold-out concert at Philips Arena Tuesday night — a statement not for from the truth.
The Toronto host provided the music, lights and pyrotechnics, and his guests provided the energy and stamina to stay on their feet through the entire two-hour stop on “The Madness” tour.
>> Photos: The Weeknd at Philips Arena
The pop star, who was nominated for seven Grammys last week, opened the show with the first track from his “Beauty Behind the Madness” album, “Real Life,” a fitting record to keep the crowd energized.
We’re not sure if there’s a trend with some artists wanting to obscure themselves from the audience — as Kanye West did during his “Yeezus” tour, wearing a mask through most of the show — but The Weeknd performed his first three songs behind a cage.
Although the lighting effects were impressive, it did make you want to bum rush the stage to get a view of him.
Elevated above the cage and the band, the man born Abel Tesfaye serenaded the crowd with his raunchy anthem “Often,” which was a signal of sorts for the audience to light up.
After swinging through a medley of songs from his mixtape albums that attracted The Weeknd’s “day-one fans,” rapper Travis Scott, who opened the show, returned to the stage. The two amped the crowd with their collaboration “Pray 4 Love,” but Scott turned it up a notch when he performed his hit, “Antidote.”
The highlight of the show came when The Weeknd performed songs including “As You Are” and “Angel,” adding a little more effort to the vocals on those high notes, which the crowd seemed to appreciate.
There can be skepticism going into a live performance from a singer whose falsetto is one of the keys to his success. How long can the voice last in a live show, especially since today’s music industry provides so many tools to hide a performer’s shortcomings?
The Weeknd’s voice is just as good live as it is on his chart-topping songs. And just when you thought he reached his limit for the three songs that took the numbers 1, 2 and 3 spots on the Billboard charts — “Can’t Feel My Face,” “Earned It” and “The Hills” — he blew you away by going upstairs with that voice.
It’s amazing how well The Weeknd knows his fans, considering he’s achieved so much success in a short time. Some major veteran pop stars have made careers out of dance numbers, elaborate stage sets and a mob of people in the background. But The Weeknd seems to know all his fans want is him — the music and the voice.
All of the ingredients for the biggest party in the city.