The Weeknd performed his first headlining concert in Japan at Chiba’s Makuhari Messe Tuesday (Dec. 18), over two years after his first showcase at Ebisu’s Liquid Room in April 2016 had to be canceled.
The highly anticipated show was opened by Japanese star Kenshi Yonezu, who kicked off his segment with his recent hit single “Flamingo,” currently being featured in the commercials for Sony WF-SP900 wireless earphones. The multi-talented hitmaker played a compact set featuring mostly new songs from his latest album BOOTLEG, closing with “Lemon,” Billboard Japan’s 2018 Song of the Year.
He confessed to the audience halfway though the set that he had initially intended to come as a fan to see The Weeknd perform live. “I was thinking of buying a ticket to come, but something strange happened and I’m now standing here,” he shared. “I guess good things happen when you keep at it.”
When The Weeknd took the stage, he opened his set with “Pray For Me” from the Black Panther soundtrack, and went on to perform a plethora of hits including “Starboy,” “Can’t Feel My Face,” and “I Feel It Coming,” which were released in November as part of a Japan-only singles collection simply called The Weeknd In Japan.
The Toronto superstar hyped up the packed crowd with bursts of “Japan!” and “Tokyo!” as he strutted the length of the stage throughout the show. He charmed local fans by changing the lyrics in “Wasted Time” to “without you Tokyo,” commanding the stage with his energetic and polished performance until the closing song, “The Hills.”
While the timetable released prior to the concert had announced The Weeknd’s segment to last about 75 minutes, happy fans noted after the show that he had actually performed almost non-stop for a good 90 minutes, blazing through a generous 25-song set. Even so, the R&B hitmaker’s successful first Japan gig left fans yearning for more and hoping that he returns sooner next time.
Text: Billboard JAPAN / Photo: Masanori Naruse (The Weeknd) / Hirohisa Nakano (Kenshi Yonezu)