Carly Rae Jepsen, pop superstar, came through Kansas on Tuesday, March 8th. Many of you may have been unaware, but greatness was just a short drive away. Seeing Jepsen at The Granada on Mass Street was an opportunity I wasn’t going to let pass me by. Clearly, many Lawrence natives felt the same way.
Doors opened at 7:00pm. We rolled into Lawrence after 8:00pm. There were a couple openers, but they were not a priority for us. It was all about Carly Rae. Stretched for time, we grabbed a slice of pizza and a beer across the street at Papa Keno’s and arrived inside the venue just before 9:00pm. The stress of potentially missing a song or two from her performance melted away as we arrived minutes before she came out on stage. I didn’t spend much time taking in the crowd, but it was a very full venue, close to a sell out I imagine. We had ambitions to get down to the lower level and get towards the front, and we succeeded only bumping into a few people along the way.
As we took our positions four or five people back towards the right side of the middle, she performed the opener, “Making the Most of the Night.” An upbeat, happier track, she got the crowd (and her band) warmed up for a fun, emotional, long set that took us on a journey through her career. Her whole band consisted of a bassist, guitarist, drummer, and an auxiliary musician who did it all from saxophone to guitar to working soundboards. Each of the other musicians, all male, had microphones for vocals most of the night. Their voices didn’t add a ton to the overall music. Honestly, it just looked like they were singing because they were having a great time. The guitarist was essentially smiling the entire night, as was the auxiliary musician.
I really should have prefaced this review by saying I am a newer Carly Rae fan. Before her record, E·MO·TION, came out in the summer of 2015, I can’t really say I took her all that seriously. “Call Me Maybe” is and was catchy, sure, but I wasn’t convinced of her greatness as a pop artist. I even found it annoying. E·MO·TION changed all that. I listed it as one of my top five favorite albums of 2015, and that wasn’t a joke. Carly is not a joke.
She followed “Making the Most of the Night” with four more tracks from E·MO·TION. This included the first of two tracks of the night with a synth-saxophone part, “Run Away With Me.” It was apparent that this was going to be a very fun and special night. Many around me were singing along, dancing, and were just happy to see one of their favorite artists. Not really my style, I just soaked it all in. Several tracks from her first album, Kiss, were sprinkled throughout the night. I must admit, the show lost my attention during those tracks, save “Call Me Maybe.”
By the end of the night, eleven of the twelve tracks from E·MO·TION were performed including my favorites, “Favourite Colour” and “LA Hallucinations.” Several times throughout the performance, she took breaks and executed extremely cheesy, clearly scripted, lines. There was always a superficial story behind it, and then it was somehow related to the next song. It was mostly adorable, but that’s not what I was there for.
Towards the end of the set, all except Carly and the guitarist left the stage, and they performed an acoustic version of “Curiosity.” Again, my attention drifted away slightly. It had been a long, solid show that was eighteen tracks long at this point. Soon again though, it was time to party. “Call Me Maybe” and “I Really Like You,” the most popular singles from each of her last two albums, sent her into the night. She has these tracks to thank for her fame (especially “Call Me Maybe”) but she has clearly evolved, and they’re no longer a good representation of her music as a whole. The show ended. No encore, but it no encore was needed if you ask me. Overall, high expectations were met, and we hit the road back to Manhattan satisfied with our witnessing of truly great pop music.
By: Dylan Swoyer