The Weeknd Covers Michael Jackson in Electrifying L.A. Tour Stop

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It what has been a banner year for The Weeknd, the R&B crooner is closing out 2015 with a bang.

Fresh off an impressive seven GRAMMY nominations, including the coveted Record of the Year for “Can’t Feel My Face” and Album of the Year for Beauty Behind the Madness, The Weeknd performed to his first of two sold-out crowds at the Forum in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

The Canadian singer, born Abel Tesfaye, is certainly not new to the scene but only recently has
catapulted to the top of pop superstardom (and rightfully so) with ubiquitous hits like “Earned It” and “Can’t Feel My Face.” His latest stop on the Madness Fall Tour easily cemented his status atop music’s A-list.

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The elusive artist has for the most part shied away from major press -- except for a cover and feature in Rolling Stone earlier this year-- but the mystery only adds to his appeal.

His die-hard fans, who at one point shouted out his birth name (“Abel! Abel! Abel!”) maintained their loyalty. But even The Weeknd himself acknowledged the new legions of fans that he’s earned and has officially won over.

“Tonight is not just a concert, it’s a celebration for me and my fans,” he told the crowd. “I think this is going to be a very long-term relationship between me and you guys.”

While featured artists like Ed Sheeran and Lana Del Rey lend their vocals to Madness, The Weeknd opted to fly solo, blowing through hit after hit, including all 14 tracks from his latest album.
Save for some serious production design, including massive LED screens, lifts and pyrotechnics, the singer left the stunts and surprise guests to his fellow pop contemporaries.

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He opened the show with the emotional track “Real Life” and “As I Am” before closing out the fast-paced set with “The Hills,” which he deemed L.A.’s “anthem.” But it was during “Shameless” that the singer really showcased the haunting rawness and pitch perfect falsetto of his voice, one that brought the feels of a young Michael Jackson.

Which made it all the more exciting when The Weeknd surprised concert-goers with a sultry rendition of MJ’s “Dirty Diana” -- the only cover of the night-- before exploding into his new single “In the Night.”

Having seen The Weeknd earlier this year at his headlining set at Coachella, which at the time felt like a major career-defining moment, I quickly realized after Tuesday’s show that he was only scratching the surface. And at this point, he’s bulldozed right through it.