Shawn Mendes Helps Bring 'MTV Unplugged' Back to Life: Here's Everything You Won't See on TV!
By Desiree Murphy
Josiah Van Dien
It's been about 17 years since MTV gradually pulled the switch on their popular '90s concert series, MTV Unplugged, but the show is officially back -- and features all-new talent!
The network aired its first episode on Nov. 26, 1989. It was hosted by singer-songwriter Jules Shear and featured performances by Squeeze, Syd Straw and Elliot Easton. As the series continued, it became known for showcasing stripped-down, acoustic performances from bands and artists like Nirvana, Lauryn Hill, KISS, Eric Clapton, Mariah Carey and Pearl Jam, many who later released their Unplugged sessions as an album. The show was a place where music lovers could go to connect with their favorite musicians in an eclectic, more intimate setting. For viewers at home, the show was taped in a way that made it feel like you were right there, up close and personal in a room with your music icons.
In an effort to age down their audience and bring back the music, MTV chose teen heartthrob Shawn Mendes to launch the newly revived version of their iconic show, with performances by Bleachers, Lorde and Carly Rae Jepsen to come in future episodes. According to the network, each artist will choose a venue that they feel a direct connection to. Mendes went with Los Angeles' The Theatre at Ace Hotel, and ET was there to witness everything you won't see on TV when it returns Friday, Sept. 8 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.
Here's what happened:
Mendes felt nervous, but grateful, to play this show for fans.
Hours before the Vine star-turned-pop artist began his show, lucky fans who obtained a ticket were lined up around the block at the venue. Once they were ushered in, they were in awe at Mendes' set. Nine various guitars were placed around the stage, with a full drum set, keyboard, piano and strings. Producers told fans they would need to be up on their feet and out of their seats for the entirety of the show.
"Even though we're filming, please treat this like it's any other concert," Mendes later told the crowd, admitting that he's never done anything quite like this before. "[I'm] truly so nervous. I was just watching videos of Nirvana and Pearl Jam doing this … I'm not used to all these cameras around, so thank you so much."
No cell phones allowed.
In a world where "if you didn't document it on social media, it didn't happen," MTV Unplugged is refreshing for those who attend the intimate tapings in person. Mendes' young fans weren't allowed to bring cell phones into the venue, which meant no Snapchatting, no Instagramming, no selfies… you get the picture. It was amazing to watch a theater full of millennials simply enjoy the concert, without worrying about who captured the best 10-second video.
Mendes asked to re-do a few of the songs… with less clothing.
The 19-year-old singer played 11 songs, and when the set was over, he talked with producers in private to see if he could redo "Stitches."
"I'm just going to take my shoes off for this one," he explained, taking a seat at the piano again. "If I mess up, it's because I took my shoes off. And my hands are, like, sticking to this piano right now."
"I know you guys don't see me at the piano a lot," he shared during the first take. "I hope it's OK…"
Ticketholders were asked to stay even after Mendes said his goodbyes.
Before anyone was allowed to exit the venue, producers asked everyone to remain standing by their seats. As Mendes' Unplugged songs were played back through the theater speakers, the camera crew went up and down the aisles to capture reactions from the most dedicated fans in the audience. Naturally, there was plenty of singing, dancing and tears!