There really are no more appropriate words than “wow,” “mind-blowing” and “crazy” to describe watching 21-year-old singer-songwriter Shawn Mendes perform Friday night (Sept. 6) at Toronto’s Rogers Centre for a sold-out crowd of 55,000, the largest headlining show he’s done to date — and in his hometown no less.
The multi-talented musician, who plays guitar and piano and has an impressive bluesy-to-falsetto vocal range, grew up just a short drive away in Pickering, Ontario. The milestone comes merely five years since “Life of the Party,” the debut single that made him the youngest person to debut in the top 25 of Billboard’s Hot 100.
The concert, which included an unannounced appearance by Camila Cabello on a sexy duet of their No. 1 Billboard single “Señorita” and a successful marriage proposal by Mendes’ trainer Josh to his girlfriend, capped off this leg of his North American tour with fellow Torontonian, 23-year-old Alessia Cara, as his support act.
Mendes thanked Cara and called her “the most incredibly smart and talented, incredibly caring unbelievable person [who] gets on stage and rocks that show every single night.” (She had joined him for the prior European leg of the tour.) Mendes, who is touring behind his 2018, self-titled album, will resume again later this month with dates in Asia, Australia, South America, and Mexico set to wrap a few days before Christmas.
The whole 135-minute stadium show, plus Cara’s 45-minute set, was filmed by multiple cameras on cranes, as well as skycams on wires and cameramen up close onstage. A “filming advisory” on screens around the concourse alerted concertgoers “by entering this venue you consent to being filmed, photographed or otherwise recorded,” but didn’t say what the footage was for.
Mendes is probably on a natural high this morning, the sheer magnitude of the accomplishment now captured for posterity. Both he and Cara got emotional, tearing up at points and visibly overwhelmed at playing such a big venue in their hometown.
Cara, who released This Summer EP on Friday, and sang such hits as “Growing Pains,” “Scars To Your Beautiful” and the live debut of “October,” called the Rogers Centre show “such a dream come true.” At one point she said, “I’m so out-of-body right now. I’m floating,” and reminded the audience she was “from here, from Brampton,” a suburb of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).
“Before I sing this next song, I just want to thank everybody that was part of this tour from tech, my whole crew, everybody, Shawn, everybody on this tour has been so incredible, thank you for opening up the stage for us,” she said, her voice cracking. “I’m sorry. I’m super emotional.”
When Mendes came on 25 minutes later, he too broke down a bit, and spoke after couple of songs: “How are you guys doing out there? I just want to take a moment to say with all of my heart to every single person in this room, thank you so much for coming out.” The giant screens broadcast his welling eyes to the whole stadium.
The setlist was virtually the same as other stops on the tour, but this night was one-of-a-kind, arguably the musical equivalent of the Toronto Raptors NBA championship (well, maybe that’s pushing it), a celebration of a homegrown talent for the entire city — and maybe the entire country.
“Oh my God. This is just absolutely unbelievable. This place is so big!” Mendes said at the upright piano. “This right now, this is not just mine. This stadium full of people is just as much yours to be proud of as it is mine. I love you guys so much, truly from the beginning, all your support. Thank you. I want everybody in this room to look around and be proud of this because this is special and I’m not doing this alone, I’m doing this with all of you. So thank you. Look around and be proud.”
Shawn Mendes’ Toronto setlist (Sept. 6):
“Lost in Japan”
“There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back”
“Señorita” (with Camila Cabello)
“Never Be Alone”
“I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)” (Whitney Houston cover)
“A Little Too Much”/”Because I Had You”/”Patience”/”When You’re Ready” medley
“Life of the Party”
“Like to Be You”
“Treat You Better”
“Where Were You in the Morning?”
“Fallin’ All in You”
“If I Can’t Have You”
“Fix You” (Coldplay cover)
“In My Blood”