"I wanna take a moment to say that every single person in this room has the power to change the world” shouts Shawn Mendes to his audience of 20,000, breaking for once the usual rhetoric of “how you guys doing out there?”. The moment feels somewhat sincere, breaking away from the sound-board of crowd interaction we’ve witnessed so far tonight, as though he’s too afraid to break the pop-star script in case he accidentally curses and sends the room in to complete meltdown, dads and daughters alike.
Tonight marks the first of a run of three shows at the venue for 20-year-old Shawn, hardly surprising when you look at his demographic of predominantly teenage girls. There are moments when you’re almost willed to believe the mania, watching the crowd hang on his every word as though he were a 21st century deity, such is the way of the pop world.
As a multi-instrumentalist, and he wants you to know - more than just someone who was spawned from Vine covers, he flits between a B-stage where he plays a beautiful grand piano, and the main stage where he’s adorned by both electric and acoustic guitar. Or, as the audience would have you think, are they adorned by him?
His confidence is admirable, kicking things off with some of his biggest recent hits like ‘Lost in Japan’, ‘There’s Nothing Holding Me Back’ and first-ever number one ‘Stitches’, before indulging fans’ wishes and crooning his way through older, more under-the-radar songs like ‘Life of the Party’ and ‘Ruin’.
After pausing to shout “How you guys doing out there?” again, for approximately the tenth time tonight, he forgets the lyrics to ‘Fallin’ All in You’, playing it off in the oh-so-charming way that male pop icons can in front of an arena of adoring fans.
It’s almost a shame that his now-evident talent is often overshadowed by crazed fans (one worked out where his house was from a video he posted and sent him a package) and that Calvin Klein advert. But, despite his obvious capabilities, he still has a long way to go and a fair bit more on-stage personality to develop if he wants longevity in his career.
The entire show you’re almost willing him to break his sleek, polished, media trained character - or lack thereof. But no, that would be uncouth, especially for a man whose number one rule in life is ‘never say no to a fan selfie’. Perhaps he’s too aware that as a performer who caught his break through social media, the very same thing could be his downfall.
Finishing, somewhat bizarrely, on a bland cover of Coldplay’s ‘Fix You’ and a more impressive, vocal flexing and maybe - only maybe - lump-in-throat inducing rendition of ‘In My Blood’, Shawn flexes his biceps one more time before running off stage. Cue mass swooning.