Review: The Weeknd's Intoxicating 'After Hours til Dawn Tour'

by Christopher Ehlers

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Monday August 1, 2022

Two years after The Weeknd postponed — and ultimately cancelled — his "After Hours Tour," he's finally out on the road with his stadium spectacular "After Hours til Dawn Tour." And good lord, was it worth the wait.

The Weeknd's ascent to stratospheric, worldwide fame is not a surprise to anyone that's been listening to him since day one, like this writer. But what is somewhat surprising, even to this mega fan, is how his dark, depressing, and downright dirty songs have found widespread, popular success across all demographics and channels. It seems like every other week he's breaking another Spotify record, and his biggest hit so far — "Blinding Lights" — is the longest-charting song in Billboard history. In other words, there's something about this mysterious man's music that keeps people listening. And listening.

"After Hours til Dawn" is in support of his last two albums, 2020's "After Hours" and 2022's "Dawn FM," both brilliant works of art that seem to pick up where the other one leaves off. "After Hours" is dark, psychotic bender of an album, one that he has said is about all the different thoughts he has between the hours of 3 a.m. to 5 a.m. "Dawn FM," he has said, is about the journey towards the light at the end of the tunnel. "Picture the album being like the listener is dead," he told Billboard. "And they're stuck in this purgatory state, which I always imagined would be like being stuck in traffic waiting to reach the light at the end of the tunnel. And while you're stuck in traffic, they got a radio station playing in the car, with a radio host guiding you to the light and helping you transition to the other side."

But after basking in the thrill that is his "After Hours til Dawn Tour," it didn't quite feel like we were heading for very much light at all. Set amongst the crumbling, burning ruins of what looks like his home city of Toronto, the entire production is a loud, intoxicating, disorienting, dystopian whirlwind that is nearly as overwhelming as it is astounding.

Only The Weeknd could open a massive stadium tour with a song about imploring his lover to, in the event that he finally overdoses, wrap his body in sheets and light him on fire. But the darkness is what he does well, and thankfully there's much of it. Fire, fog, lasers, and a giant moon suspended over the crowd made it feel as though we were all on some ecstasy-fueled journey on the last night of the world. A group of dancers, who would often walk steady and ceremoniously around the stadium, and whose entire faces and bodies were covered by flowing red fabric, infused the evening with something that felt both ancient and futuristic. It was also regularly pretty creepy, which isn't surprising when you consider the fact that he just announced a partnership with Universal Studios, which will feature two "After Hours"-themed haunted houses as part of its Halloween Horror Nights in both LA and Orlando.

It's hard to imagine that The Weeknd could possibly get any bigger than he is now. But as he's demonstrated time and time again, he manages to outdo himself with each new era, phase, and album. He's one of the greatest and most brilliant minds in the business today, and "After Hours til Dawn" is the blinding embodiment of that.