By Brad Haynes
It’s hard to imagine a better pairing for a night of music catering to an adolescent female audience. Both Charlie Puth and Shawn Mendes know exactly what buttons to push to leave their mostly teen fans wanting more.
Puth is most comfortable behind the piano, and that’s where he spent the majority of his 30 minute set, although that didn’t hamper his connection with the audience.
He was exceptionally strong on the song “Suffer,” which had the audience, who clearly knew every single word, doing anything other than suffering.
“The vibe is strong Orlando,” he said before using the easily recognizable “Can’t Help Falling in Love” to launch into his big hit “One Call Away.” Once again, the crowd knew every word and were singing (as would also be the case with Mendes later on) as loudly, clearly and as perfectly pitched as you’re likely to ever hear at an arena show.
Stepping away from the piano, Puth had the audience eating out of his hands with his current single “Attention” before closing out his short set with the song that first brought him radio play and immense attention.
“When I wrote this I wrote this on the piano in California on a random July day. It’s actually the anniversary of it,” he said. There were probably very few in the audience that didn’t know that the song in question was “When I See You Again.”
After a short intermission, with a lit ball floating over the crowd, an audio media blitz announced the onstage arrival of Shawn Mendes, opening his part of the show with “There’s Nothing Holding Me Back.”
With his million dollar smile, Mendes lit up the stage with incredible charisma and a strong connection with his audience.
“Out of all of the music I have written, this has had the biggest impact,” Mendes said before launching into the emotional anthem “A Little Too Much.”
An assault of blue light lead into “Stitches.” Once again, the audience was more than willing to take over on the vocals and Mendes encouraged them strongly by chanting, “Scream it!” “When you wake up in the morning and you have no voice I want this to be the reason that happened!” he announced.
Things slowed down a bit at the beginning of “Bad Reputation” but the song ended in a rousing climax before moving the action down on the floor by the soundboard. It was there that he took to the piano, giving a quick sample of his cover of Ed Sheeran’s “Castle on the Hill” as an introduction to his own “Life of the Party.”
Picking up his guitar, he remained on the floor for “Three Little Words.” He then got rid of instruments altogether, concentrating on his adoring audience while singing “Roses” and giving them the ultimate in fan service.
The lighting for the show, which was augmented by some pretty awesome video production on the stage as well, was simple, yet highly effective, mainly working in shades of blue.
In introducing “Understand,” Mendes said, “I realize that the best songs need the fewest words to be explained. It’s about being human and I hope you love it as much as I do.” And it was clear the audience did.
“Don’t Be a Fool” allowed Mendes to show off his amazing voice, and soulful interpretive style, to its fullest.
With the smash hit “Mercy,” the screams of the crowd reached their highest level of the night. It was a gorgeous highlight to the evening.
After a brief encore, Mendes came back for a slow build with “Treat You Better.” Beginning with just himself alone on stage behind a piano, giving the appropriate sense of intimacy, the song transitioned to Mendes grabbing his guitar and bringing the band back for a big finish. After that, it was doubtful that Mendes, or Puth for that matter, could have treated their adoring crowd any better with their awesome night full of fan favorites.