On September 23, 2016, Shawn Mendes released his second studio album Illuminate. The album was following Mendes’ debut Handwritten which performed well on the charts. However, no one could have predicted the success that Illuminate was going to be. Going #1 in 9 countries, and entering top 5 in a total of 16, Mendes had his first bona fide album hit. His singles also totally dominated the radio; the lead single “Treat You Better” went top 10 in 29 countries, it’s second single “Mercy” went top 10 in 10 countries, and it’s 3rd single “There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back” went top 10 in 30 countries. As for certifications, in the US alone “Treat You Better” went 3x Platinum, “Mercy” went 2x Platinum, and “There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back” went 2x Platinum. It’s safe to say that Mendes scored a pretty large scale hit with his sophomore effort.
Naturally, a massive, worldwide tour ensued. However, like the record, no one could have predicted the smash that the tour was to become. The announcement of the Illuminate World Tour prompted the pre-sale codes on Shawn’s website to become one of the most sought after items; membership to ShawnAccess (Shawn’s official fan club) was climbing by the thousands per hour, all in search of pre-sale tickets. When the tour officially went on sale, 24 dates sold out on the first day of sales, with many other shows to follow. As of time of publication of this article, 59/60 shows sold out (more on the show that didn’t sell out in a bit).
Mendes began rehearsals for the tour one week after the conclusion of the Shawn Mendes World Tour in November 2016. Rehearsals lasted until late February 2017 when Mendes and his camp packed everything up and headed to Europe to finish rehearsals. Through most of April, Shawn continued to rehearse for the tour, offering glimpses into the production via his social media and his YouTube channel. Finally, after 5 months of rehearsal, the tour began in Glasgow, Scotland on April 27, 2017.
It was here that we got to see all of the cool aspects of the show’s production. The main stage was two tiered, most of the band on a slightly elevated platform, and Shawn and his guitarists on the lower level. The back of the stage was lined with a large LED screen that showed pre-recorded images and live footage. They key element of the main stage was a large, circular light wheel that could raise and lower throughout the show.
The most exciting feature of the tour was the addition of a b-stage at the back end of the arena complete with one of the most impressive props the tour has to showcase. Hanging above the b-stage is a giant globe that has various things projected on it throughout the show. In the intro, we see fast moving images, however it is at it’s most beautiful use when Shawn is on the b-stage singing some of his calmer ballads featuring the globe showing projections of planetary faces moon faces.
When I got to attend the show in Nashville, I got the whole effect of these amazing props. However, I can attest that Shawn himself is far and away the star of the show. Mendes has always been personal with his fans. He is an artist who you can tell is legitimately thankful for their love and support and he has even said (many times) that he doesn’t see the Mendes Army as fans, he sees us as friends. And the respect is mutual. At this show, Shawn was personal and respectful with the crowd, and the crowd was for him. The respect element is so large here; while at a Justin Bieber or a One Direction gig, the fans will put their hands all over the stage and try to grab the singer by the collar any time he comes close. Not here. At a Shawn concert, the crowd respects Shawn so much that they wait for his move. When he went into the crowd to get to the b-stage, no one tried to grab at him; they put their hands out but never tried to attack him. When he was on the b-stage which almost no barrier, fans kept their hands off the stage floor, giving Mendes plenty of room to walk. When he came forward, then they put their hands out. Also note that Shawn doesn’t dress to crave attention, he comes on stage in a button up shirt and simple black jeans. He’s also a multi instrumentalist, his shows focusing on the music and not dancing (a skill Shawn has claimed many times not to possess).
Mendes is also an incredible performer. His talent shines through in his impressive playing skills. His passion is worn on his sleeve. He treats his guitar like it’s an extension of him and he is prone to break into impromptu jams with his band at the tail end of songs. It’s just an incredible experience to see someone so in love with their art.
Now let’s go leg-by-leg and talk about this incredible tour.
He started in Europe which took Shawn through 15 countries, 20 cities, and 21 shows. The tour opened in Glasgow and went off without a hitch. In fact, things ran smoother than most tours do for their first several shows. Shawn is a crafty performer and is known to oversee every inch of the show from start to finish, so it seems that he really put in the time and the effort for this show. It is in this leg that Shawn performed his only show that wasn’t sold out: Zurich, Switzerland which still had 937 tickets left (though this isn’t much in the grand scheme when the capacity for this show was 13,000). This is most likely due to something that happened a few times over the course of the tour: in certain places in Europe, LiveNation was unable to secure much promotion for the shows, relying heavily on word of mouth and social media. This was also Shawn’s first show in Switzerland, a country that he hadn’t yet totally broken through yet. However, the ticket sales are still beyond impressive, nearing total capacity. In Europe, Shawn’s shows gained positive reviews, however there were not many official publications covering the shows due to other major news on the continent.
Next, he moved to North America. 2 countries, 29 cities, 30 shows. This leg featured a few shows that were not sold out, however the largest amount of tickets left over was for a show in Los Angeles and there were only 210 or so tickets left over, almost all in the restricted view sections (as was the case for the other 2 shows that didn’t 100% sell out this leg. Shawn added a few elements to the show on this leg, adding some new arrangements to the songs and adding in more crowd participation moments. All-in-all, no major catastrophes came about aside from Shawn being noticeably under the weather for a few shows. However he did not cancel and continued the tour, taking care of his voice as he went on. It did the trick and Shawn kept the energy high all the way. Shawn’s shows scored many high marks from critics, with some saying the show was one of the most entertaining shows of the summer.
It was during this leg that Shawn jetted down to Latin America to perform to the largest crowd of his career thus far as part of the Rock in Rio festival. Shawn performed for over 250,000 people. Shawn is also credited by the heads of the festival for being one of the largest draws this year. He is credited along with Justin Timberlake and The Who for having the first completely sold out night in Rock in Rio history. Mendes’ performance was well received by the crowd who quite literally screamed the words back to Mendes.
It was also during this leg that Shawn, for the first time in his career, had to cancel a show. The stop in Mexico City, Mexico, scheduled to take place on September 20, was cancelled due to the 2017 Central Mexico Earthquake. However, Shawn joined up with the Red Cross and other disaster relief programs to assist in the recovery operation in Mexico. In an interview, Shawn said that he would do everything he can to reschedule the show, and if he can’t do that, play multiple on his next tour.
As of now, Shawn is still looking at his Australia and Asia shows in November and December of 2017. The tour will come to a close on December 18 in Tokyo, Japan.
This tour was truly something special. Mendes proved he was a legit performer, a legit artist, and a force to be reckoned with in the live market. Congrats Shawn on hid best tour yet!
There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back
Medley: I Don’t Even Know Your Name/Aftertaste/Kid in Love/I Want You Back (Jackson 5 cover)
A Little Too Much
Castle on the Hill (Ed Sheeran cover) (snippet)/Life of the Party
Three Empty Words
Don’t Be a Fool
Never Be Alone
Treat You Better