Review: Carly Rae Jepsen

19 December 2019

Between walking into the Forum at a little past 7pm and seeing Carly Rae Jepsen come on stage for her sold-out Melbourne show was probably the most trying few hours of my life.

Am I being dramatic? Yeah, ok—but not unlike all the other stans who got there way early and spent those very hours the same way I did, jostling around and clamoring over one another for a better view. Would I do it all over again? Fuck yeah!

My fondness for Jepsen’s fourth studio album Dedicated is welldocumented and, it seems, well-shared. The penultimate show of the Dedicated Tour indeed reflected the intense devotion that many people feel for her craft, and at times the whole thing felt a bit like karaoke. Opening with ‘No Drug Like Me’, she had everyone singing along lyric-for-lyric before the end of the first line. This was followed with ‘Emotion’, at which point I thrust my phone at my friend who had a slightly better filming angle just so I could scream, “be tormented by me babe, wonder wonder how I do” at the top of my lungs.

Needless to say I was intensely dehydrated by the night’s end.

Nowhere in sight was the usual ebb-and-flow of live music; every single song on the setlist was somebody’s favourite, and the audience, euphoric, were belting along throughout. How could we not? The entirety of Emotion is a cult classic— any individual track could justifiably be called a fan favourite (from ‘I Really Like You’ to ‘Cry’, from ‘Your Type’ to ‘Boy Problems’; you see what I mean?)—and Dedicated only cemented her growing collection of songs that you just can’t resist singing along to. On the other hand, the only pre-Emotion song she sang was ‘Call Me Maybe’—a bop, but far from the most well-received number, which is probably the most telling thing about her fanbase in 2019, seven years after her hyperpop heyday.

The setlist moved through her two latest albums in almost-equal parts, and ‘Want You In My Room’ and ‘Run Away With Me’ (Pitchfork’s 36th best song of the decade) inspired particularly passionate shout-along singing—maybe there’s something about loud declarations of love and desire that speaks to the audience demographic (make of that what you will), or maybe it’s just the charm of Jepsen’s trademark, her effervescent excess that kept everyone on their feet in a state of pure joy for over 90 minutes. Meanwhile, she consistently looked relaxed and in her element on stage, and one can only wonder where pop music’s favourite indie darling goes from here. One can only hope for more.

Saving the best for last, she sang an encore of ‘Real Love’, ‘Let’s Get Lost’ and the iconic ‘Cut To The Feeling’ before sending the Melbourne audience back into the uncharacteristically cold December night, feeling at least a little warmer inside. Also noteworthy is a strong opening performance from Starley, who was fun and inspiring and set the tone for a whole evening of pure pop bliss.

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