The Weeknd postpones Toronto concert due to Rogers outage

David Friend, The Canadian Press

Published 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 much anticipated start of The Weeknd’s world tour in his hometown of Toronto had been sidelined due to the nationwide outage of the Rogers network.

It was a last-minute announcement that spread on social media with just over an hour before the show started. That caused many fans to rush to the gates only to find out they couldn’t get in, and led to them hanging out on the property, complaining about Rogers’ technology.

Staff spread the news by walking through the crowd with megaphones, while a pre-recorded message was played through loudspeakers outside the venue every few minutes.

“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 was canceled when she showed her ticket.

“The Weeknd is more inventive so I thought he could perform, but I bet he’s angrier than the rest of us.”

The musician, born Abel Tesfaye, confirmed that in a statement, saying he was “crushed and heartbroken” before emphatically blaming Rogers.

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

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

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

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

“We are a huge concert family; we would probably go to eight or nine a year prior to COVID,” she said.

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

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

In June, Justin Bieber postponed two concerts at Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena just hours before he was due to perform, leaving fans wandering outside the venue as reality set in.

The pop singer from Stratford, Ontario, would later say he withdrew because he suffered from Ramsay Hunt syndrome, a form of facial paralysis.

The Weeknd’s show was perhaps even more anticipated as it marked the start of a world tour and the culmination of several years of success for the Canadian artist in the city where his music career was blossoming.

Since the start of the pandemic, The Weeknd had become one of the biggest stars in the industry, aided by the success of his 2020 album ‘After Hours’, which broke records on the Top 40 charts, leading to a performance as headliner of the Super Bowl halftime show. for 2021.

The After Hours Til Dawn stadium tour is presented as Tesfaye’s next big vision.

After the Super Bowl, the singer decided he wanted to go bigger, so he canceled plans for an arena tour and refunded all the tickets. At the time, he said he would move his shows to stadiums “because of the limitations of the arenas” and increase his ambitions, while giving fans who had already bought tickets the first chance to buy new ones.

Due to his changes, dates in Edmonton, Winnipeg and Montreal were permanently removed from the calendar.

Leading up to the new series of shows, Tesfaye teased the big reveal in Toronto with images of a huge and expansive stage that looked like a post-apocalyptic city.

But when the Rogers network went down Friday morning, some fans wondered if The Weeknd could deliver the highly technical show it promised if the venue’s infrastructure failed.

“It felt heartbreaking,” said Himani Patel, who was still processing how the power outage at Rogers messed up her plans.

“We thought they’d invent something, like maybe use Bell or something. We didn’t think it (the show) would have such an impact. It was just so disturbing that all this hype came to nothing.”

Other Friday concerts were also affected by the outage. Scotiabank Arena in Toronto suggested that those attending the Roger Waters show keep their mobile tickets on their Apple Wallet or Google Pay, depending on the phone model they have.

A few blocks away, Massey Hall was encouraging people to print their tickets to comedian Hannah Gadsby’s Friday night show, and the same was true at Budweiser Stage, also in Toronto, where country music star Keith Urban was set to perform.

The venue, which has no cash, also urged people to bring a credit card to pay for food and drinks, as the outage impacted debit transactions managed by Interac.

Across the country, the outage left businesses and customers without internet, leaving some retailers to accept cash only, causing problems for police, radio broadcasters and Service Canada’s passport offices.

Rogers offered no explanation for the problems, but said service was beginning to recover late Friday.

The Weeknd’s 19-date 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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