Learning to play the guitar from YouTube tutorials at the age of 12, Mendes drew a massive and nearly-immediate following on the same social media outlet less than a year later, garnering much attention from his musical covers of fellow Canadian-musician Justin Bieber. Although there are several parallels between Mendes and the Biebs, Mendes reminded me very much of John Mayer who I had covered at this same exact venue just a few years ago.
Mendes was classy and gentleman-like. Thousands of screaming fans singing along with his every lyric. I liked his poppish folk style, and respected the sincerity of his musicality. He was never drowned out or overwhelmed by the backup musicians or instruments, and didn't attempt to distract the fans with any complicated dance numbers (although I'm absolutely certain the females in the audience wouldn't have minded to see that at all!)
Mendes played guitar rocking primarily the main stage... but then at song #8, the Amway floor seemed to all disperse to the back by Stage B, where Mendes performed for about 15 minutes within significantly closer proximity to the seats furtherest from the stage. I'm still surprised how well the fans knew this was going to happen... even with my media advisement, I still wasn't aware that he would be switching stages until about 15 minutes before the concert started. It was clear that his fans clearly did their research!
Shawn also played the piano well. His piano covers of Whitney Houston's 'I Wanna Dance with Somebody' and Coldplay's 'Fix You' were beautifully executed, with the covers sounding more like his paying homage to 2 great songs and their respective artists vs. his trying to own either as being his.
This was a very special night for me personally as I brought my 14 year old daughter with me... making this her first concert to ever attend. My daughter is normally shy and quiet, but I couldn't help but notice how quickly she picked up Mendes' catchy choruses and I could hear her confidently belting out songs as she held her front-facing camera phone light up in the air to blend in with everyone else. Watching my daughter, I understood that the bicep-bearing Mendes was exactly that popular kid from back in high school / college that all the girls would love, no matter what he did. But also after observing him for 90 minutes, it didn't seem like he was really capable of doing anything wrong. His voice was clean, he was well within his vocal range never to push too far into his extremes, and he genuinely seemed to love playing ALL of his songs tonight.
Bringing my daughter to this, her first concert, I quickly understood yet dreaded the fact that no matter how shy or introverted our children can be, there will be that one confident kid who will someday come along and will likely sweep them off their feet. I pray that Shawn Mendes continues to develop and mature as a musician, because he has millions of fans wanting to see him do well... and he has just as many overprotective parents wishing him all the best too.
Great show, Shawn. Hope to see you in Orlando again soon.