Concert Review with PHOTOS: Shawn Mendes

Photos by Leah Victoria

Photos by Leah Victoria

By Wal Reid

Artist: Shawn Mendes

Sate / Venue: Saturday November 25th, 2017 - Spark Arena, Auckland

I like my music real with an air of authenticity – real gritty shit. I’m happy to slam to hard out bands like The Exploited and Brazilian metallers Sepultura. Or recently local boy-done-good Marlon Williams, even, dance proponents Rudimental. If it’s good quality and sounds ok, chances are I’ll dig it. Well, that seems to be my maxim when citing musical tastes anyway.

I have no idea, why I gravitate towards the pop twee of nineteen year old, John Mayer look-alike Shawn Mendes. Maybe, it’s because I’m also a singer/songwriter that his pop pap resonates with me or since first hearing his single Stiches that’s garnered my attention. Hundreds of screaming teenage girls last night at Auckland’s Spark Arena, obviously agreed with me as well.

There’s Nothing Holding Me Back took pole position kicking off his Illuminate Tour tonight, as the mostly female crowd (and moi) were fixated at the exuberant spectacle on stage. The youthful band sounding polished performing in perfect sync with Mendes, while Lights On and a wee medley comprising of I Don’t Even Know Your Name/Aftertaste and Kid In Love, were quickly reeled off in succession. At one point, the drummer was hitting his set so hard, I thought he was about to lose his sticks!

The Canadian singer’ cherubic face blasted on towering screens in full high definition, the screaming intensified as the phenomenal lighting rig beamed Shawn from the front to another smaller stage at the back, reflecting off the giant ‘onion skin’ orb. Phones held high all night must’ve saved the Arena on power bills, and most of the crowd scrambled to get their ‘likes’ up on social media. It was the kind of frenzy you’d expect, would cause an Instagram outage or crash Facebook.

Shawn Mendes has one seriously sweet voice. Never waning or flaky.  Think of it as having the Bluesy aspects of John Mayer without the nasal annoyance of Jason Mraz or Ed Sheerans’s latest album. Actually, during the changeover to the back stage, Mendes pulled off a credible version of Sheeran’s Castle on the Hill which like tonight’s version of Kings of Leon’s Use Somebody, gave disregard to its original intention and making it nicely his own.  

After his reflective spiel before A Little Too Much, radio hits, Stitches, Patience and Mercy were nicely spread out in the set list, while he headed for the back of the stage playing a small acoustic set, including his first hit Life of the Party and Three Empty Words. With a couple of rogue Canadian flags waving in the audience, he ended on his hit Treat You Better, the vocal strong crowd rallying for one last sing-song.  

Given the average age of the mostly teen crowd, this is probably the one rare occasion where being a bald Maori man pushing 50 years was a disadvantage. The kid has serious chops and a mature pop sensibility that belies his years – soon he’ll take over the world and dominate the radio airwaves – Did I mention he’s only nineteen?