TOUR REVIEW: Shawn Mendes
The energy in the O2 Arena is palpable on the last night of Shawn Mendes: The Tour’s European leg. The venue is full of anticipation for the closing show. There’s crowds around a photo wall displaying artful tour posters, queues for merch curving around corners, and fans swarming the venue in t-shirts adorned with pink flowers. Everywhere, there’s an air of pure excitement and pure youth.
This feeling permeates the night; everything about the show feels young. This, perhaps, is a given, seeing as Mendes is the current (almost) teenage superstar pop singer marketed towards pre-teen and teenage girls, similar to Justin Bieber or, even earlier, Jesse McCartney before him. But it’s more than that: the screaming and singing that picks up after every chorus, every comment between songs, shouldn’t be attributed to fans crazed zeal, but rather their raw and untethered energy.
Perhaps this is why the most impactful song of the night was “Youth,” off his most recent album Shawn Mendes which features Khalid. The song was an implant for the night, not included on the set list of previous performances in the European leg (and instead replaced the 2016 chart-topper “Mercy”). And yet, it was the perfect choice for the performance.
Over and over throughout the chorus, Mendes shouted, “You can’t take my youth away” to an exhilarated and excited audience. The line run out throughout the venue. Where in the recorded version, the song is slow, solemn, and soulful, the live version was, well, alive. There was passion behind the verse, a fervor in Mendes to get the words out and enjoy the moment. He is, no doubt, at the height of his fame, with arenas of fans around the world clamouring for just an ounce of his attentions. Both he and the crowds were here to embrace that undeniable feeling of youthful and unabashed, fleeting happiness.
“Youth” served as a goodbye—to the European tour, to London after a residency of three nights, and the night itself, the pre-encore closer. But it was also optimistic; the start of something new. Mendes knew that even if this moment may be passing, but if he held on tight enough, even more was yet to come.