Social media platforms have opened up a host of opportunities for budding singers to put their music out there.
But only a select few – think Justin Bieber – have successfully made the leap from performing in front of a camera to performing in front of thousands of fans in huge arenas.
Last Saturday night at Axiata Arena Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur, Canadian singer Shawn Mendes showed that not only did he join that rare group of performers to successfully make that jump, he made the jump seem so effortless.
The moment the 21-year-old stepped on stage and opened the show with Lost In Japan, clad in a sleeveless, white button-up shirt and skin-tight black jeans, we forgot the fact that he used to sing covers.
His high-energy performance powered up the stadium right from the get-go, as he belted out the uptempo number while bouncing from one end of the main stage to the other with such ease.
Mendes – who was in town as part of his 106-city world tour in support of his latest self-titled album – followed it up with There’s Nothing Holding Me Back, which just like the title suggests, saw him holding nothing back.
And audiences, many of whom were young female fans, lapped it all up – every high note, every sultry move. Even the simple act of running a hand through his tousled hair elicited screams at one point.
Although I haven’t been following Mendes’s career closely, I found myself nodding my head in recognition as one song after another came on.
Indeed, Mendes – who released his debut album, Handwritten, in 2015 – has been churning out one chart-topping hit after another; almost all of them were co-written by the singer, which just goes to show how adept Mendes is at creating hits of his own. Long gone are the days when he only sang someone else’s.
Still, what impressed me most was the singer’s vocal ability.
Midway through his set, at a smaller, second stage erected in the middle of the stadium, Mendes sat on a piano and simply sang.
Doing away with the pulsating beats of many of his signature numbers, the singer’s voice was now front and centre.
Mendes transformed Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody into an unexpected ballad besides playing slow tempo tracks Life Of The Party, Like To Be You and Ruin.
Here, the subtler qualities of Mendes’s voice shone, sounding even better than his recordings at times.
There’s also something to be said about Mendes’s vocal stamina. Throughout the one hour and 45 minute-long concert, the singer accessed his falsettos a great deal (in almost every other song) yet he never sounded tired.
And Mendes’s falsettos are so powerful and loud, they even cut through the blaring background music.
The show was a roaring success overall, drawing some 9,000 concert-goers, but I felt it lacked one minor ingredient.
While the singer certainly engaged the crowd, often encouraging them to sing and dance along, I wished he had spent more time speaking to the audience.
I wanted to know Mendes more. I wanted to know the stories behind the songs he wrote. I wanted to know the ups and downs of his music journey.
After all, Mendes had come a long way, and has undoubtedly accumulated many stories to tell.
In 2013, he was a wide-eyed 15-year-old from Ontario, Canada, when he began uploading six-second covers on Vine. The short-form video hosting service unfortunately shut down in 2017.
Interestingly, Mendes outlasted the very medium he put his music on. And that’s really quite something.