Taylor Swift might play at being the girl next door gone big, but Carly Rae Jepsen is the real thing: once one aspiring singer among thousands whose ship appeared to have sailed…only to return as a globe-trotting super-yacht named “Call Me Maybe”… only to seemingly sail off again to whispers of “one hit wonder.” It’s a compelling narrative, but it doesn’t end there. Thanks to the singer’s immaculate second LP, E-MO-TION, her star is on the rise again, and she’s finding new fans in unlikely places.
Jepsen capitalized on her newfound “mindie” fame with a near-perfect performance at Irving Plaza Wednesday night. That “near” is crucial. While this was a much nicer production than one would ever find on the indie circuit, replete with two backing vocalists, some saxophone, and a slick (but modest by chart pop standards) lighting rig backdrop, it never felt too well-rehearsed. Jepsen found moments for spontaneity — like when she donned a fan’s cat ears after coming down into the crowd during “Call Me Maybe”, then plopped them atop guitarist (and “Call Me” co-scribe) Tavish Crowe’s head — and her banter, including a humorous NYC vs. L.A. intro to “LA Hallucinations”, had just enough wiggle room to feel real. But the night’s most electrifying unplanned moment came at the close of “When I Needed You”, as the audience, unprompted, kept the song’s chorus going for a full minute after the band stopped. You could see the joyous surprise in the faces of everyone on stage. This was the “Gimmie Love Tour”, after all, and the crowd here was doing just that.
Carly Rae Jepsen