On Friday September 13, at the First Ontario Concert Hall in Downtown Hamilton, Carly Rae Jepsen showed off her Canadian charm and proved the future of pop music lies in the nostalgic memories of the past.
The Canadian leg of The Dedicated Tour began late August in Vancouver and is making its final stops in Southern Ontario before moving onto Asia in early October. Jepsen brought along up-and-coming Canadian pop artist Ralph as an opener, who at one point during her set mentioned that “It was a great Saturday night in Hamilton!” that prompted the audience to say that it was in fact Friday.
Carly Rae Jepsen took the stage shortly after, emerging from the shadows as she started the show with “No Drug Like Me.” On the stage, there is no dramatic set dressings or elaborate costumes meant to display a true spectacle, just a woman with a love for feelings and a few instrumentalists (who adopt choreography at points during the show). Jepsen is packed full of personality and charm, sharing stories of the inspiration between songs. Before she started her album opener “Julien,” she reveals that Julien was a boy she dated for a few months from Montreal, and that while she doesn’t carry feelings for him anymore, he has a name that sings nicely. She yells “Don’t call me!” right as the band kicks in. Her genuine spirit is contagious and never gives the hint of being anything other than true emotion. In an interview with q on CBC, she has said, in regard to how different she is on and off stage, “I don’t think I separate them as two different things. I know some performers do, they’ve got like this stage idea. I feel like I’m just myself, and I’m myself performing, and I’m myself at home. Obviously you get to be a little bit more theatrical and over-the-top when you’re on stage, but that’s a very sincere part of my personality. And I don’t know if that’s the right answer, but that’s the true one.”
There’s a quiet confidence to Jepsen’s music. In my youth, I had dismissed the musical stylings of Carly Rae Jepsen as not a pop master craft, but instead the ramblings of a permanent sixth grader trying to slip a note to her crush at recess. It took me far too long to truly realize that that sixth grader lives somewhere deep inside everyone. While others push that child down and try to give an air of maturity and coolness, Jepsen embraces the preteen, and puts that unfound courage in a sleek disco-pop package in order to place her heart at stake. The audience is a reflection of this mindset. During “Want You In My Room,” an 80’s inspired Jack Antonoff produced track from her latest album Dedicated, preteen girls dance in their seats, who sing along with the university students grooving beside them.
Jepsen ends the show with her 2017 single “Cut To The Feeling,” a track originally written for her fan-favourite album Emotion. Even after over an hour of dancing and singing her heart out, Jepsen manages to turn the First Ontario Concert Hall into a dance party one last time. She bids farewell to the audience, and concludes another night dedicated to the true power of emotion. Carly Rae Jepsen has saved pop music once again.