The entertainer, 30, belted the track from the top of Edge at Hudson Yards in New York City with his signature bloody makeup, surrounded by fireworks.
The Weeknd (real name Abel Tesfaye) last performed at the VMAs in August 2015, when he debuted his megahit “Can’t Feel My Face” and memorably brought that year’s Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award recipient, Kanye West, to his feet in the crowd.
The Toronto native has been nominated for 17 VMAs throughout his career. He took home his first Moon Person trophy on Sunday in the Best R&B category. He was also up for Artist of the Year as well as Video of the Year, Best Direction and Best Editing, all for his “Blinding Lights” visual.
MTV announced on August 11 that The Weeknd was set to attend the VMAs for the first time in five years. He was supposed to perform at the 2017 ceremony, where he was nominated for five awards, but he ended up being a no-show, reportedly due to fatigue from touring.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, The Weeknd has found creative ways to promote his latest album, After Hours, which was released on March 20 to critical acclaim. He performed a five-song augmented reality concert via TikTok on August 7 dubbed “The Weeknd Experience.” More recently, he brought the album to life via Spotify, using artificial intelligence to have one-on-one chats with fans. His After Hours tour — which was originally scheduled to kick off in Vancouver, Canada, on June 11 — has been postponed to 2021.
The three-time Grammy winner has also continued to be altruistic during the pandemic. In June, he donated $500,000 to MusiCares and another $500,000 to Scarborough Health Network.