by Aurora Zboch
September 6, 2019
Shawn Mendes is looming over Toronto. With a billboard above Yonge and Dundas Square and his face on an exclusive run of Timmies cups, the 21-year-old from Pickering, ON crossed another one off the bucket list playing the Rogers Centre—his home city’s largest concert venue—on Sept. 6.
Mendes showed off his a crisp falsetto and fully matured range, complemented by a small band of drums, guitars and keys. He belted through a wide smile, accompanying himself with an acoustic or electric guitar if not sitting behind a piano. His vocal power never wavered except to greet the audience of 50,000 in disbelief. Fans got to indulge in nearly every song from the latest self-titled album in full or within clever mashups, including “Lost in Japan” and “If I Can’t Have You.” Many in attendance sported the new Roots clothing collaboration launched this week in conjunction with the Shawn Mendes Foundation, or were adorned with flowers to match the latest album artwork.
Screams reached a fever pitch for “Señorita,” featuring pop goddess and new girlfriend Camila Cabello. It was anticipated that she’d join Mendes this show amidst sightings of hand-holding this week, and indeed the real-life couple did treat fans to a reimagination of their sexy VMAs performance complete with shared mics, close dancing and, as the lights went down, a kiss.
Chromatic visual transitions gave time to switch between stages, and a chance for the audience to catch a breath. Halfway through the set, Mendes moved to centre stage to perform under an illuminated rose, and returned to his roots as a cover artist by covering Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” in between a piano medley of songs from each of his three albums.
Before dedicating “Fallin’ All In You,” Mendes helped his friend and personal trainer Josh Adamson propose to girlfriend Jess. When the crowd became a choir, it was clear the young hitmaker can turn his deepest cuts into stadium anthems. This show was charged with wide-reaching pop/rock—not only for young girls to relate to, but just-as-happy moms, tolerant dads and many grandparents in attendance.
Mendes also couldn’t have picked a more perfect opener, another GTA local and singer-songwriter, Alessia Cara. Awestruck, she summed up the night to the tune of her debut hit and a shout out to the filling stadium: “I ask myself / What am I doing / Here.” Cara’s sultry voice permeated like smoke in a room of partygoers. She engaged in a Disney singalong with her Moana track “How Far I’ll Go,” and also performed “October” for the first time to mark the release of new EP, This Summer, that same day.
Shawn Mendes’ sold-out world tour resumes in Seoul, South Korea on Sept. 25.Rogers Centre, Shawn Mendes, Toronto