The arena was illuminated with twinkling pink lights, which came to a halt as Canadian pop star Shawn Mendes emerged from under the stage. Backlit by a bright spotlight and a guitar slung across his back, the singer began his first of two shows at the Staples Center on July 5.
At the age of 13, Mendes spent hours in his room teaching himself how to play guitar, following YouTube tutorials and replicating songs by singer Ed Sheeran. He began to post videos of him singing on YouTube and Vine, and it didn’t take long before he blew up.
The superstar is no foreigner to famous arenas, like Madison Square Garden in New York City or The O2 Arena in London. Having released his third album “Shawn Mendes,” the singer embarks on his fourth tour to give fans a show unlike any of his others.
Upon entering the venue, every audience member received a white bracelet that lit up in different patterns, successions and colors throughout the show. While Mendes is not the first artist to make use of these bracelets — as Taylor Swift used them on her Reputation tour and they have become popular among K-pop groups — it’s the perfect way for an artist to connect an audience of over 21,000 people.
He began the show with his hit “Lost in Japan,” a song off his most recent album, which tells the story of a man willing to travel overseas to be with the girl he’s in love with.
For most of the night, he had his guitar slung across his back so he could quickly pull it over his shoulder to strum when needed.
By the fifth song, he took a seat at the piano and slowed things down with the steamy single “Señorita” that he and singer Camila Cabello released at the end of June. He then mixed in his older single with Cabello, “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” before transitioning back into his own originals.
Switching between three guitars and taking moments to slow down on the piano — which was stylishly crafted with holes that leaked light — it was impossible to get bored and to not be mesmerized by his talent.
Mendes made use of his small, circular stage. It was rare for him to stay in one place, running back and forth to greet fans on all sides of him. He blew kisses, waved and leaned down to sing to them. Each time he was met with adoring screams and even a few tears.
He even gave a bit of attention to fans more toward the back, running through the crowd to play a few songs on a smaller stage that was connected to a gigantic rose that towered over his audience. There he played a medley of his favorite songs off his older albums “Illuminate” and “Handwritten.” He even played a cover of Whitney Houston’s famous “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.”
“How many people have been listening since ‘Handwritten’?” Mendes asked the audience.
The audience replied with a roar of screaming and hands shooting up into the air, proving the loyalty that his fans have for him.
With nine more songs left, he returned back to the main stage to finish the show. The set contained favorites off of all three of his albums. Whether someone had been listening since his first album or discovered him from his self-titled third album, everyone had something to sing-along to.
He gave the audience many chances to sing with him, stepping away from the microphone to listen to the arena scream his lyrics back at him. Sometimes he gave them little melodies to sing and asked them to stomp and clap along with him.
“Do not stop singing,” he said during the concert, which only made the crowd yell the lyrics at him louder. He looked out into the crowd with a glistening smile and hand on his heart.
After singing his finale song “Mercy,” he left the stage for a moment. Each screen lit up with variegated graphics. The room shook with the loudest of the fans screams when he returned to the stage for an encore.
He returned to his piano to play a cover of “Fix You” by Coldplay. He mixed the cover with his original “In My Blood,” the hit everyone was undoubtedly waiting for all night. The lyrics give a glimpse into the singer’s personal struggles — dealing with anxiety and fear of being alone.
“This song is the closest song to my heart that I’ve ever written,” Mendes said on Twitter.
The vibrancy, passion and confidence that Mendes put into his performance proved the significance of the song to him.
The night ended with a confetti cannon showering the audience with white strips of paper. Mendes bowed and blew kisses to his fans one last time. He left the audience surged with energy, excited and wanting more.
The night was a glimpse into the growth the singer has gone through. The 20-year-old has matured with each album and by the looks of his recent releases, will continue to do so.
He’s no longer just the 16-year-old with an acoustic guitar and flannels; he’s a singer with range and relatability who cares strongly about the music he makes. Many people have criticized pop artists for not having a genuine passion for their music, but with each song, album and performance, it’s apparent that Mendes contains the authenticity and enjoyment that audience members look for in artists today.