“Youth is not an age. It’s not a number that defines you,” Shawn Mendes gazes into the audience, dimple deepening. Donning an all-black outfit attire and his guitar slung to his side, he is framed by floral graphics.
Raising his right hand in the air, showcasing his tattoo of a swallow, Mendes explained, “Youth is a feeling of freedom. Of hope. Of enjoyment.” A magnolia bloomed behind him. “No-one can take your youth away.”
Playing to a crowd of mostly 13-20 year-old girls, Shawn Mendes and his band performed Mendes’ self-entitled album.
Supporting act was Sydney singer-songwriter, Ruel. He graced the stage – delivering strong, confident vocals throughout the entire set. Lapping up every move and lyric of his songs ‘Dazed and Confused’, ‘Face to Face’, ‘Painkiller’ and others, the crowd was electric. If it weren’t for the Marvel guitar strap and my Wikipedia stalk, it would have been nearly impossible to believe he is a year shy of 18 when listening to his vocals. As his set came to a close, a sense of pandemonium built as the audience felt Mendes’ nearing.
Often, I struggle describing the energy in a room. This time, it was all too familiar – nostalgic even… High-pitched squeals, selfies, posters, crop-tops and lit-up wristbands fuelled the room in typical teen-fan style. The air was buzzing, and the girls were belting lyrics well before Mendes had even set foot on stage.
Kickstarting the night with ‘Lost in Japan’, the atmospheric song is best described as a solid, gold bop. Released in October 2018, this track to many signifies Mendes’ maturity with his music – presenting a new, refreshing spin on the once teen star, now global pop sensation. Letting the audience finish each line of the song, Mendes peered out to the twinkling crowd, either thinking, a: what a great decision the light-up wristbands were, or b: how happy he was to be back in Australia. The latter was vocalised. I predict both were thought.
This album is Mendes’ third, crossing the bridge from a one-man boy band to still family-friendly groovy R&B funk. Inspired heavily by relationships and breakups, he eloquently sings about sex – whilst avoiding any innuendoes or cheeky comments. The man is gentle, respectful and all class. He’s also wildly talented musically – swapping between guitar and piano the entire evening. It’s truly no wonder the young girls are swooning.
Closing with Mercy, confetti and blasts of smoke, the audience begged for more. He delivered, singing his last Australian show away with a cover of Coldplay’s ‘Fix You’, followed by crowd favourite, ‘In My Blood’.