The Weeknd postpones Toronto concert due to Rogers failure

David Friend, The Canadian Press

Posted on Friday July 8, 2022 7:51 pm EDT

Last updated on Friday, July 8, 2022 10:37 pm EDT

TORONTO — Thousands of fans were disappointed and dejected on Friday when they arrived at the Rogers Center to learn that The Weeknd’s much-anticipated world tour kick-off in his hometown of Toronto has been paused thanks to Rogers’ nationwide network outage.

It was a last-minute announcement that went viral on social media a little over an hour before the performance began. That had many fans rushing to the gates to find they couldn’t get in and leading them to linger on the grounds complaining about Rogers’ technology.

Staffers broke the news by walking through the crowd with megaphones, while a pre-recorded message was repeated every few minutes on speakers outside the venue.

“I’m disappointed…we’ve been waiting for this for so long,” said Sabrina Halabi, who flew in from Calgary and booked a hotel only to be told the concert wasn’t happening when she showed her ticket.

“The Weeknd is more inventive, so I thought he might[perform]but I bet he’s more pissed off than the rest of us.”

The musician, who was born Abel Tesfaye, confirmed this in a statement, saying he was “dejected and heartbroken” before blaming Rogers for it.

“I’ve been at the venue all day, but with Rogers out, it’s out of my hands,” he said.

“Operations and safety are at risk and I have done my best.”

The Rogers Center added in a statement that details of a new show date will be announced as soon as possible and that existing tickets will be honored.

That was little consolation for Laura Rees, who cried out in surprise when she heard the announcement over the loudspeaker. She had just departed from Waterloo, Ontario with her two daughters and husband in tow.

“We are a huge concert family; We’d probably go to an eight or nine a year before COVID,” she said.

“When COVID hit it was a big stop for us, (and now) everyone wants out. I just want to hear the music.”

Rees pointed out that this is yet another inconvenience for Canadian music fans who are trying to get back into the habit of buying tickets for live shows but are let down too often.

In June, Justin Bieber rescheduled two concerts at Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena just hours before his scheduled performance, leaving fans wandering around outside of the venue while reality sank in.

The Stratford, Ontario pop singer later said he retired because he has Ramsay Hunt Syndrome, a form of facial paralysis.

The Weeknd’s show was perhaps even more eagerly awaited, as it marked the start of a world tour and the culmination of a multi-year success story for the Canadian artist in the city where his music career blossomed.

Since the pandemic began, The Weeknd had emerged as one of the industry’s biggest stars, helped by the success of his 2020 album After Hours, which broke records in the Top 40 chart, and an appearance as headlining the Super Bowl halftime show performed in 2021.

The After Hours Til Dawn Stadium Tour is presented as Tesfaye’s next grandiose vision.

After the Super Bowl, the singer decided he wanted to grow bigger, so he scrapped plans for an arena tour and refunded all tickets. At the time, he said “due to arena restrictions” he would be moving his shows to stadiums and ramping up his ambitions, while fans who have already bought tickets would get the first jump in buying new ones.

His changes meant dates in Edmonton, Winnipeg, and Montreal were permanently removed from the calendar.

Ahead of the new shows, Tesfaye teased the big Toronto reveal with images of a huge and elaborate stage that looked like a post-apocalyptic city.

But when the Rogers network collapsed on Friday morning, some fans wondered if The Weeknd could deliver the highly technical show it promised if the infrastructure at the venue wasn’t working properly.

“It felt heartbreaking,” said Himani Patel, still processing how Rogers’ absence messed up her plans.

“We thought they’d figure something out, like maybe use Bell or something. We didn’t think it would affect (the show) that much. It was just so annoying that all this hype was going nowhere.”

Other Friday concerts have also been affected by the outage, with Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena suggesting visitors to the Roger Waters show save their cellphone tickets to their Apple Wallet or Google Pay, depending on the phone model.

A few blocks away, Massey Hall encouraged people to print out their tickets for comedian Hannah Gadsby’s Friday night show, as did Budweiser Stage, also in Toronto, where country star Keith Urban was scheduled to perform.

The cashless venue also urged people to bring a credit card to pay for food and drinks as the outage affected Interac-managed debit transactions.

Across the country, the outage has left businesses and customers without internet, leading some retailers to accept cash only, and creating problems for police, radio stations and Service Canada passport offices.

Rogers didn’t offer an explanation for the problems but said late Friday the service was being restored.

The Weeknd’s 19-day North American leg moves to the United States next week before returning to Canada to play Vancouver’s BC Place on August 25.

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