Shawn Mendes captures the hearts of Generation Z at FEQ

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Photo: Cassandra Kerwin

Shawn Mendes, a 19-year old multi-talented musician from Toronto, gave a performance worthy of a more experienced musician. He has incredible stage presence and knows how to charm the crowd.

Shawn Mendes, a 19-year-old pop star from Toronto, took over the Plains of Abraham on July 8. Thousands of representatives of Generation Z (people born after 1995) crowded around the Bell stage to see their Canadian idol. Children, teens and young adults started screaming the singer’s name long before he stepped onto the stage.

The moment the stage went dark, the Plains turned into a party zone. Mendes stepped out wearing a half-buttoned white-striped shirt over a black T-shirt and skinny black jeans. He opened with his hit, “Holding Me Back,” and the crowd sang along louder than him. Even fans barely as tall as the barriers knew the lyrics to “Stitches.”

Throughout the 90-minute concert, Mendes often asked the crowd, “How are you doing out there? Sing with me!” He thanked the crowd for coming out to see him and approached the edge of the stage to get closer to the crowd. When that was not enough, he actually stepped off and walked among them as he sang “Ruin.” His piano solo on “Thinking About You,” as well as the intense songs “Mercy” and “Never Be Alone,” had the crowd lighting up their cell phones, which shone like stars.

Halfway through the concert, Mendes said, “I see so many young faces here this evening. I want to take the time to tell you that you have the power to change the world. Do not let anybody tell you otherwise.” He repeatedly said, “Je t’aime Québec,” among other things, in French with an almost flawless accent.

Mendes closed with more fan favourites, “In My Blood,” “Use Somebody” and “Treat You Better.” Every once in a while, Mendes would throw back his tousled hair, adding to his charm. He truly captured the hearts of all those present. His guitar solo was worthy of a much more experienced musician. Before leaving the stage, without an encore, he sent kisses into the crowd. To call Mendes charismatic is an understatement.

In less than a month, Mendes will be 20. Already, at his young age, he has surmounted many personal obstacles and earned 55 awards, including three Juno Awards, A Canada’s Walk of Fame Award and nine MTV Awards. He has been nominated for 13 awards over the past four years at the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN) annual awards, and has won each time.

Mendes’ success started in 2012, when he first strummed a guitar and became a self-taught musician. A year later, he posted cover videos on the social video app Vine, where became the third most followed musician on the app in 2014. By that July, he was the youngest artist to debut in the top 25 of the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. Since then, he has created three studio and two live albums, 16 music videos and 13 singles.