Review: Shawn Mendes (with Julia Michaels)

Okay... I’ve officially lost part of my hearing from Saturday night’s crowd - loud is a complete understatement! 

Canadian pop-star Shawn Mendes sent Kiwi fans into a frenzy as his Illuminate World Tour hit Spark Arena in Auckland this past weekend with powerhouse support act Julia Michaels in tow. 

As it hit 7.30pm, screams erupted as Julia bound onto the stage, visibly excited to perform for the overjoyed audience - it was her first time in New Zealand after all. Julia put on a full-on set with her band, who matched her energy with ease as she danced through a medley of songs she’d written for other big time artists including Selena Gomez’s Bad Liar and Justin Bieber’s Sorry. 

This immediately prompted a mass sing-along which continued when Julia ended her set with hit tunes off her debut album, Uh Huh and Issues. Seriously - can she get back down here stat to perform her new album in full?!

After hearing many of the fans in the audience screaming for half an hour straight while Shawn’s tech team finalised the stage set-up, 8.30pm rolled around and the drums kicked in. Shawn wasted no time in getting the party started, launching straight into There’s Nothing Holdin' Me Back before asking in his sweet Canadian accent, “Hey Auckland, how you doing? Give it up for my band - hope you enjoy the show tonight!”

Shawn’s effortless stage presence was evident, as was his genuine love for performing. As he took short breathers in between songs, he liked to remind the crowd that they “sound and look beautiful.” (Insert excess levels of screaming here!)

While the crowd hung on to his every last word, Shawn decided to test if his pal Khalid (who had performed at the arena earlier in the month) was telling the truth when he said NZ was one of the loudest crowd he’s ever heard. As you can imagine, the audience didn’t disappoint as Shawn ran to his second stage at the other end of the venue situated under his massive moon light ball. He then laughed off forgetting the words to Three Empty Words

The impressive 18 song set-list included many versions stripped back and acoustic which really showcased his incredible vocals. I always admire hearing an artist in a raw form like this. As his band faded into black, Shawn introduced The Weight as a song he wrote in his bedroom at age 15 and hopes that it is relatable at any age. A Little Too Much and Stitches followed and were just as majestic. 

In true encore fashion, he ended the show in style - mashing up Kings of Leon’s Use Somebody before launching into crowd favourite, Treat You Better. I can say you treated NZ pretty damn well Shawn Mendes.

Imagery: Billboard/Roberto Ricciuti