Carly Rae Jepsen with Ralph—Live at MTelus—September 12, 2019—Montreal, QC

Pop music sometimes has a bad reputation with music geeks. Yes, it’s fun and light and the lyrics are usually about love, but, in the words of Sheryl Crow, “if it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad.” It’s cool when a successful popstar’s live show is so good it blows away any preconceived notions of these so-called experts about an artist’s oeuvre.

For example, most of us probably know about Carly Rae Jepsen’s massive hit “Call Me Maybe” but not her other work. It turns out Jepsen recently released her fourth album, Dedicated, which has millions of fans all over the world and is currently on tour in support of this latest release.

Carly Rae Jepsen

Toronto singer Ralph opened the show with catchy pop songs and soulful disco for thirty minutes. She mentioned they had just driven for 19 hours from Thunder Bay and didn’t know what day it was, saying it was ok to dance because “it’s Friday night, right?” it was actually Thursday, but no one seemed to care and they danced like it was a Friday. But Montreal always brings good energy, no matter the day of the week! The crowd impressed her, and, not to disrespect Thunder Bay, said we were more fun. I couldn’t agree more.

Another misconception is that Jepsen’s fan base consists of teenage girls and their middle-aged moms. Well, nothing could be further from the truth! The crowd at her packed show at MTelus was more than half full of young men in their 20s and 30s who knew all the lyrics and enthusiastically danced nonstop throughout the 90-minute set.

Carly Rae Jepsen

One indisputable fact about Jepsen’s music is the love and relationship theme in her songs. The set took us through her relationship history; the love, loss, and heartbreak. “No Drug Like Me” was a perfect opening track, with lyrics showing her sweet and vulnerable side while letting us know “if you make me feel in love then I’ll blossom for you.” The audience did indeed love her, and she returned the feeling. The shy sweetness in her voice and personality reminded me of Montreal duo Milk & Bone.

With pop music it often just takes one good song, or one super-catchy hook, to draw you in. This was true for the track “Julien,” which Jepsen said is about a guy she met from Montreal and if he “was at the show, don’t bother calling her because she’s moved on.” I looked up the story behind the song and she wrote it about a romantic weekend she had in Quebec City, but the song isn’t about anyone in particular. It made for a cool story, though.

Other parts of the set blended together like a steamy romance novel. “Boy Problems” started with the line “if you’re going to go then go,” and as it was near the end of the set she seemed to be asking the crowd if they wanted to hear more. Then, Jepsen went right into “Party for One” singing “if you don’t care about me, I’ll just dance for myself.” Obviously, everyone in the venue cared, and this shy humility was a nice touch to her highly polished, but not over-the-top performance.

Jepsen’s set was surprisingly fun, not only for the quality of the music but also for the Canadian star’s infectious energy. Jepsen worked the crowd like a pro and had all those young men imitating her style and positivity. She pointed the microphone at the crowd and encouraged them to sing a little too much, but it was understandable given the crowd knew the words to every song.

Written by Rob Coles
Photography by Marc-Antoine Morin

*edited by Mike Milito


About Rob Coles 106 Articles
Rob started DJing trip hop and drum and bass in the late 90s at various underground watering holes and sub-standard, probably condemned warehouses in Winnipeg’s downtown core. He fondly remembers making weekly pilgrimages to the local record shop to pick up a fresh stack of the latest 12” singles for weekend gigs. As a co-founder of Quadrafunk Radio, Winnipeg’s longest-running electronic radio-show, Rob set out on a mission to find the perfect beat —for the mind and for the feet—be it reggae, dubstep, techno, or any other bass-driven, dub-infused sounds. Rob moved to Montreal in 2009 to study art history, but like so many other ex-pats he found himself mesmerized by the city’s deep music culture, talented performers, and late-night debauchery. You’ll find Rob nodding his head in the sweet-spot of the venue (as close to the sound-guy as possible) when the bass drops.

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