In full disclosure, it begs mentioning that I am a HUGE Carly Rae Jepsen fan. Especially after the earth-shattering album she dropped last year in the form of E•MO•TION, she’d managed to convert even her most passionate detractors into brand spankin’ new superfans. Sure, I dug “Call Me Maybe” when it came out and I did lose my mind over “Tonight I’m Getting Over You” for a little while, but I never identified as a fan until last year. E•MO•TION is the quintessential pop ALBUM. Yes, that was in all caps intentionally because it’s important that everyone recognize what CRJ has accomplished here – she’s unleashed a modern day Bad or CrazySexyCool or Private Dancer or True Blue…you get the point. The album is more legendary and game-changing than any sales figure or chart performance would ever suggest. When you pair up the best sounds of the 80s and early 90s courtesy of a stellar production team with some impermeable songwriting, put all of that through the Carly Rae Jepsen hit-machine, and you’re bound to have a future classic on your hands. While I would love to gush about E•MO•TION, we’re here to talk about her quite sold out Metro show. But this lot had to be said because in all honesty, Carly could’ve sat on a milk crate and beatboxed her nearly 20 song set and I still would be giving the show a perfect rating coupled with a glowing review. Judging by the audience’s reaction, though, the 5/5 rating is quite well deserved.
It probably goes without saying that seeing a pop star like Carly Rae Jepsen in itself is quite a special event. When “Call Me Maybe” was taking over everything and everyone, if you said I’d be seeing her at the Metro four years later, I would’ve called your bluff. That being said, you could taste the excitement in that jam-packed room. Everyone knew they were in store for a special night and when the lights dimmed for the show to start, I myself may or may not have tinkled a smidge. Opening with a salvo of some of the biggest tunes from E•MO•TION, she tore into “Run Away with Me,” “Making the Most of the Night,” and the album’s title track. Her vocals were impeccable – she may not be laying down Britney moves all over the stage, but she sure does sing the shit out of her music. She engages the audience like they’re her best friends (we all probably wish we were) as well, so it was almost like a sensory overload. Of all the pop stars I’ve seen, never have I seen anyone be as “on” as Carly Rae Jepsen.
The setlist CRJ dug into for about an hour and a half left no stone unturned…well, except for that Fuller House theme song (which she performed the night before – with a special guest, Mr. Bob Saget!) or her new song with The Knocks. But as far as her two biggest albums are concerned, we heard all the hits and more. “Gimmie Love” created the same spacious ambiance at the Metro as it does on the record while “All That” had all of us grooving right along with her to the soulful funk ballad, but I did have only one minor complaint and it is ever so minor. One of my favorite songs, “L.A. Hallucinations,” seemed to fall a little flat since much of the song’s chorus is propelled by a bassy low-end synth that just didn’t translate well live. It just sounded like pure bass and none of the texture that truly punctuates the song on the record was anywhere to be found. The same effect happened for the chorus of “Warm Blood,” but that wasn’t as aurally jarring. Regardless of that minor detail, this show absolutely blew. my. mind.
After the one-two punch of her biggest hits (“Call Me Maybe” and “I Really Like You”) that closed out her set, I tried to process what had just happened. I’d undoubtedly just witnessed something very unique – a pop star who could have attempted to follow a string of massive radio hits with another string of even more successful hits. Her manager is Scooter Braun, after all. Instead, she gave the finger to all those expectations and birthed a slice of 80’s pop perfection that still found its home with mainstream pop fanatics. After seeing Carly Rae Jepsen manifest all of those infectious songs in front of one of the most passionate crowds I’ve ever been a part of, it becomes plain as day that Ms. Jepsen is an artist with endless potential. She’s not going anywhere but up and mark my words, the next time we see her, it won’t be in a venue as intimate as the Metro.