Six years ago, Shawn Mendes was a rising Vine star, posting music to the now-dead platform. This August, he packed Boston’s TD Garden for two nights in a row.
Mendes is an artist that needs to be seen live. Streaming his music doesn’t do him justice as an artist. Last year, I called out Mendes’ most recent album, Shawn Mendes, as being underwhelming, since many of the tracks didn’t stand out as particularly interesting. But on August 16, he breathed life into new and old songs alike to a crowd of 18,000.
Mendes spent most of his time on the main stage, alternating between the piano and his guitar as he plowed through his setlist. Starting off with the recent “Lost in Japan,” he also played older hits like “Stitches” and “There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back” early on to keep the crowd’s energy up. It worked. Even during slower songs like “Youth” and “Like To Be You,” the audience was loud enough to match Mendes’ volume, even overpowering him at times.
His stage presence still leaves room for improvement, but he’s got time to polish his persona. When he’s playing hit songs to thousands of people and amassing hundreds of millions of streams on Spotify, sometimes it’s easy to forget he just turned 21. A little more interaction never hurt anybody, least of all the fans. But this crowd didn’t seem to care either way as they screamed the lyrics back at Mendes and cheered when he did just about anything.
The most captivating part of the night, interestingly, wasn’t anything Mendes did. Instead, fans in attendance were given LED bracelets that were synced up with the stage lighting—when the lights dimmed, so did the bracelets. When the lights were red, thousands of wrists also lit up red. It was a clever way to involve the crowd in the show, and made for a nice (free) keepsake for fans. (Those who didn’t want to keep the bracelets could leave their bracelets in bins to be recycled.)
Mendes will wrap up the North American leg with a show in his home city of Toronto on September 6 before he embarks on a tour of Asia and Australia this fall; all his upcoming tour dates can be found here.