Shawn Mendes at American Airlines Center
Girls and young women weren’t the only members of the audience of 13,500 who screamed with excitement at the Sprint Center on Friday.
The 95-minute show by 20-year-old Canadian pop star Shawn Mendes also elicited a roar of approval from older fans.
Mendes is touring in support of his self-titled third studio album, a recording brimming with hits that resonate among fans of all ages.
The appeal is obvious. Just as the air conditioning inside the Sprint Center made it easy to forget about the broiling temperature outside, Mendes’ escapist pop provided sonic refuge from everyday troubles.
The 30-foot stem of the rose that towered over the second stage at the back of the arena had no thorns. Like the enormous prop, Mendes’ pop has few sharp edges.
Even Mendes’ sad songs are imbued with carefree optimism. Although his 2015 breakout hit “Stitches” is about recovering from a devastating breakup, happy claps accentuated the ditty’s jaunty melody.
The notable exception to Mendes’ penchant for fizzy fun is his standout song “In My Blood.” The pain he imbued in a reading of the 2018 hit belied his young age.
As with opening act Alessia Cara, a fellow Canadian who won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 2018, Mendes has yet to settle on a signature sound.
Like an imaginative child playing dress-up, Mendes investigated a variety of styles on Friday. In addition to his default pop star mode, Mendes toyed with hard rock on “Bad Reputation,” acted as a sensitive singer-songwriter during “Never Be Alone,” toyed with arty indie-rock on “Why,” and served as a bluesy guitar slinger on “Ruin,” and played a cordial piano man on a charming medley.
He excelled in each role.
The evening’s sole disappointment was a lifeless version of the current smash “Señorita.” Without the presence of his duet partner (and reported romantic interest) Camila Cabello, Mendes and his four-piece band offered a startlingly drab arrangement of the hit.
Mendes told his admirers that in spite of the impressive production, “the most exciting part of the show is you guys.”
The illuminated bracelets that were given to fans to light up the arena, a mobile circular video screen and a massive confetti blast were no match for 95 minutes of ecstatic screaming.
Shawn Mendes set list: Lost In Japan; There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back; Nervous; Stitches; Señorita; Bad Reputation; Never Be Alone; I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me); medley: Because I Had You/A Little Too Much/Patience/When You’re Ready/Life of the Party; Like to Be You; Ruin; Treat You Better; Particular Taste; Where Were You in the Morning?; Fallin’ All in You; Youth; If I Can’t Have You; Why; Mercy; Fix You; In My Blood
Alessia Cara set list: Here; Wild Things; Growing Pains; 7 Days; How Far I’ll Go; Out of Love; Comfortable; Trust My Lonely; Scars to Your Beautiful; Stay