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Live Review: Shawn Mendes w/ Julia Michaels @ Brisbane Entertainment Centre – 29.11.2017

The name Julia Michaels was relatively unfamiliar before she took the stage as the opening act for pop powerhouse Shawn Mendes at his Brisbane show, but all evidence suggests this won’t be the case a few months from now.

She seemed to revel in the deafening screams of thousands of teenage girls as she took the stage, and again as she finished her suggestive opening number Pink. From there on, the only thing brighter than her red blouse was her energy as she flew through a string of pop tunes. Make It Up To You was the first real taste of her sweet falsetto, contrasting against vibrant beats, and a strong precursor to her song of the moment, I Miss You. Michaels found the emotion overwhelming early in the song, missing a few lines to catch herself, but with intense appreciation from the crowd she was back to throwing herself around like a well-dressed rag doll.

Her most impressive set highlight was a medley of the pop hits she has written for other artists, including Selena Gomez tunes Bad Liar and Good For You, Hailee Steinfeld’s Love Myself, and Justin Bieber’s Sorry. Not long afterwards, her biggest radio hit Issues proved the perfect set-closer, a tune made for sing-a-longs with a crowd full of fresh-faced fans who know every word.

When it came time for Shawn Mendes to take the stage, the only difference was the immediate investment from the crowd in the form of piercing screeches and declarations of love. In hindsight, it’s surprising that no “gifts” were thrown onto the stage. Perhaps the most impressive part of his performance was his focus on delivering a genuine, soulful performance amidst all the gimmicks surrounding him.

There was something magical about the opening guitar strike of There’s Nothing Holding Me Back, in that it made the girls (and probably even some of the mums) lose their minds. The song was as smooth as its recording, but it was only made memorable by the chemistry between band members.

Lights On saw Mendes turn band chemistry into audience chemistry, dousing the crowd with eye contact as he sang lyrics far beyond the experiential histories of most 14-year-olds. Most of them knew every word, and the mums in the mosh seemed to love it more than anyone else.

Tunes from Mendes’ 2015 album ‘Handwritten’ like I Don’t Even Know Your Name sounded better than ever carried by more experienced vocals, but even at peak volume it never could have competed with the screaming. Although the band was quiet through A Little Too Much, it was by no means a solo number thanks to the constant, surprisingly well-tuned backing vocals from the crowd.

Entering the business end of the set, Mendes delivered a one-two punch with old favourite Stitches followed by delicate rock number Bad Reputation. The lighting went crazy, as did the screaming, making for an all encompassing sensation, and an amazing guitar solo from the lead guitarist stole the show, at least for a minute or so.

Ruin was a set highlight, the passion seeping through every word on stage and entwining with the light from floating mobile phones. The screaming from the crowd had become like wallpaper, an inconsequential background noise, stopping only to make way for the longest singalong ever at the end of the crowd favourite.

Castle On The Hill made its way into the set, before somehow leading into Life of the Party – the two songs didn’t seem to go together, but no one really cared. Such is the adoration Mendes’ fans have for the pop idol, and it only intensified as the familiar melody of Three Empty Words began. There was something almost meditative about the crowd favourite, sung by thousands of adoring teen girls and mums – so much so that even forgotten words couldn’t ruin it. Following vocal ballad Roses, an explosion of guitars died down to make room for No Promises. The tapestry of backing vocal lines and intricate guitar rhythms made for an all encompassing aural experience, and Mendes looked overjoyed to be there.

There isn’t enough room within an 800- to 1000 word boundary to sum up Understand, Don’t Be A Fool, and the beloved Mercy, except to say that the vocal runs and guitar faces were pretty damn impressive. With a quiet, acoustic singalong performance of Take A Piece Of My Heart, it seemed obvious that the show was beginning to slow down, but the Kings Of Leon cover that followed gave the opposite impression, especially when the melody of Treat You Better emerged ready for a strong finish.

The mark of a beloved artist and a good show is most of the crowd leaving exhausted, hoarse and happy, and with Julia Michaels as support, Shawn Mendes delivered that for Brisbane – it might sound corny, but there was truly nothing holding him back. Check out the opening track below, and grab some tickets for his final Australian show in Perth!

Shawn Mendes ‘Illuminate’ World Tour Dates 

Perth Arena, WA

Get Tickets HERE

Written by Jess Martyn

Photos by Dana Hope