Imagine the possibilities if the power of an arena filled with young Shawn Mendes fans could be harnessed into some sort of renewable energy. The ear-piercing screams of the adoring fans that fill the Brisbane Entertainment Centre Wednesday night might be enough to power the whole city. Words: Tammy Whitelaw
After performing multiple shows in both Sydney and Melbourne to sold-out crowds, Mendes was spotted taking some time out in Byron Bay before heading north for the final show of his Australian tour. Brisbane fans had a support act change with American pop-country duo Dan + Shay swapped out for Aussie boy on the rise, Ruel.
The 17-year-old singer-songwriter from Sydney is the perfect fit for tonight’s show, receiving as much love as Mendes himself. 2019 has been an incredible year for the young artist, selling out shows across the country, along with his latest EP Free Time hitting #3 on the ARIA Chart. The crowd already seems well acquainted with tracks Real Thing, Face To Face and Painkiller.
Bounding onto the stage in all black with his guitar slung behind his back, Shawn Mendes breaks into his opening track, Lost In Japan. With his cut-off sleeves exposing the tattoos on his arms, you’d be mistaken for thinking he was a bit of a bad boy. One flash of his charming smile is enough to change your mind.
“What makes a good show?” Mendes asks us. “It isn’t the cameras, it isn’t the lights, it isn’t even the music. The most incredible part is you guys. Please do not stop singing as loud as you can,” he entreats – and the audience don’t. Screaming along to every single word of Stitches, their phones recording every moment, it’s obvious the girls in the audience have spent hours in their bedroom rehearsing for tonight.
Mendes sits at the piano for the duets he’s recorded with girlfriend Camila Cabello: Senorita and I Know What You Did Last Summer. The pair have quickly become the young power couple of pop – a modern, more grounded Britney and Justin (though I’m sure Camila won’t have her own Britney 2007 moment). Though a taken man, Shawn plays the role of heartbreaker perfectly; he makes every girl in the room feel like the lyrics to Treat Me Better were written just for her.
Switching between both guitar and piano throughout the night, it’s clear Mendes is not just a pretty boy who can sing – he’s a pretty boy with a whole lotta musical talent, and charm.
Performing a portion of the set from a secondary stage at the back of the arena allows Mendes to get closer to the fans in the nosebleeds. A giant, white, illuminated rose hangs from the ceiling for a cover of Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody. A medley of older tracks follows, along with the Julia Michaels co-write Like To Be You. Ruin is one of the highlights of the night, allowing Mendes to showcase his talent on guitar.
Returning to the main stage for Treat You Better and Particular Taste (a song with an obvious Prince influence), Mendes closes out the main set with his latest smash If I Can’t Have You and crowd-favourite Mercy. An intimate cover of Coldplay’s Fix You begins the encore, before confetti rains down over the crowd for In My Blood.
It’s easy to forget Mendes is only 21; his performance is that of an artist with years and years of touring under his belt. The shift from teen heartthrob into world-class musician is proving to be an easy one for the young star. His next tour down under may even find some of the parents – who tonight were waiting patiently outside – keen to get in on the action.