Published Aug 29, 2019Feelings are complicated. Carly Rae Jepsen knows this full well, having written two critically adored albums about all the messiness and beauty of emotions and all the despairing, maddening confusion and comforting sense of worldly order they cause. But the Mission, BC singer's first of two back-to-back sold-out shows at the Commodore Ballroom on Wednesday night (August 28) was about as straightforward and perfect as a pop show can be without much production beyond multicoloured lights, a disco ball and a couple of outfit changes.
Starting things off with some stellar pop of her own was Toronto singer RALPH. Backed by a drummer and a bassist who doubled as her keyboardist, RALPH's snappy, soulful disco-pop sounded crisp and shimmering in a venue that's often muddled by unbalanced mixing. "Tease" and new song "No Fuss, No Muss" got the audience jumping and shaking the Commodore's bouncy floor. Her velvety voice soared on "GIMME" and "Gravity."
Jepsen and her six-piece band hit the stage with high energy, starting with "No Drug Like Me" and "E•MO•TION." The floor bounced hardest during "Run Away with Me" and, with barely a breath afterwards, "Julien." At this moment, she looked particularly resplendent as bright light danced across a disco ball, speckling the stage and matching the sparky, flowy orange top she wore for the first half of the set.
Jepsen and her band's stamina was impressive, but her fans showed even more, topping themselves even after it didn't seem like they could scream any louder. And they sang all the words — every brokenhearted, empowering, carefree, anxious, thoughtful, and frivolous word.
Surprisingly, even though nostalgia is the cheapest lighter fluid, her fans didn't scream as loudly for her biggest hit "Call Me Maybe" as one might expect. Maybe that was a sign that her fans had matured alongside her in the seven years since she released it.
Jepsen paced her performance well, simmering every once in a while with songs like "Gimme Love," "Fever," and "For Sure." But these numbers barely dialed down the evening's tempo; the breathing room in each of them only created contrast, amplifying their booming choruses even more.
"Fever" was a particular highlight. Halfway through it, Jepsen and her two backup singers left the stage, leaving her drummer, another percussionist on electronic drum pads, and her synth player to jam. The trio's instrumental showcase was a welcomed break from the steady flow of neat and tidy pop.
Although Jepsen sounded practiced, she never sounded laboured — likely due to her beaming enthusiasm. Some of her transitions were just too good: "If you're having boy problems, you can always have a [strategic pause] party for one," she pointed out, moving from "Boy Problems" to "Party for One."
After this winning pair, Carly dished out a generous three-song encore of "Real Love," "Let's Get Lost" and "Cut to the Feeling."
"I wanna cut to the feeling," the chorus went. With the audience singing, dancing and glowing from beginning to end, that mission was accomplished.