The Weeknd's Abel Tesfaye had a message for his doctor recently when he was advised to cut his fall tour short a few dates: "Fuck that."
With heavy anticipation for the Nov. 13 release of "Trilogy" (Republic), a compilation of his three mixtapes ("House of Balloons," "Thursday" and "Echoes of Silence") plus three all-new bonus tracks -- not to mention three sold-out gigs in New York City before wrapping up the tour in his hometown of Toronto -- it's no surprise that Tesfaye wanted to keep the party going Thursday night (Oct. 25) at Terminal 5 despite putting his voice at risk. And with an hour-long set full of fan favorites ("Wicked Games," "High For This," "Next" and encore "Outside") that demand abrupt, full-throttle falsetto, Tesfaye's voice was in fine form, effortlessly leaping across octaves with plenty of room for soulful melisma. He also appeared to have overcome some of the stage fright that kept him largely stationary during some of his first-ever gigs earlier this year at Coachella and New York's Bowery Ballroom, the latter of which found Tesfaye's voice notably strained.
Set-wise, Tesfaye stuck to the hits -- despite teasing a snippet of new single "Valerie" on YouTube earlier this week and dropping another unreleased track, "Enemy" (which does not appear on "Trilogy") Thursday night.
He did incorporate a few new elements to songs like "The Birds, Pt. 1 and 2," which was reimagined as a virtual duet with a video of a woman in a blonde bob wig lip-syncing to Tesfaye's warped vocals. He also let the crowd take over for vocal duties at many points during "Crew Love," his Drake collaboration from 2011 and his biggest hit to date. But with "Wicked Games" already charting on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs chart, a featured vocal on Wiz Khalifa's "Remember You" and his touring clout rapidly growing (selling out two nights at Terminal 5 less than six months after filling Bowery Ballroom is no easy feat), Tesfaye seemed to be ready to embrace a new level of mainstream success.