Carly Rae Jepsen storms the dance floor at The Bellwether

Carly Rae Jepsen Bellwether 2023 TA mainbar

It was all smiles for Carly Rae Jepsen‘s Saturday night performance of the Anything To Be With You Tour at The Bellwether, the second of her three-night residency at the new downtown venue. It was a high-energy night for fans and for Carly, with the pop star giving hot vocals, moves, looks and personality as fans were eating up a show largely devoted to two most recent albums, 2023’s The Loveliest Time and 2022’s The Loneliest Time. 17 of the 26 songs performed were off these two albums, which showcase a lot of synth-pop and disco. The dance party was kicked off by Melbourne, Australia-based funk-leaning electronic act Harvey Sutherland, followed by the lead-in to Carly’s set, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” blasted on the sound system with the crowd hyped, singing and dancing along.

Carly Rae Jepsen was joined by her band of four musicians and two background singers, with the star in a pearly-white tutu dress, high lace-up boots and her platinum blonde locks for “Let’s Sort the Whole Thing Out”, while the crowd joined in. It was a fun pop-rock opener with the singers taking center stage with Jepsen for some choreography and their hands up. Electro-pop banger “Run Away With Me” had CRJ standing on a speaker for some lively call-and response with her fans with every person singing along and smoke shooting out from the floor. One of the guitarists (who is a phenomenal multi-instrumentalist) on the back riser had his saxophone blasting with Carly next to him at the song’s end. She bobbed her head while dancing with her singers on the crowd-pleaser “Anything to Be With You”. Following all the feels on “Surrender My Heart”, the bass-leading “Joshua Tree” had the audience singing “da-da-da-da-das” as Jepsen let loose.

“This next song is actually about my ex, it’s actually about your exes too, so let’s anger up”, said Jepsen. “Talking to Yourself” was the bop, an 80s-flavored pop-rock song, with just about very fan echoing the singer and all the right energy for a live moment. The funky “Shy Boy” found all of the musicians and singers leaning to the left and to the right in unison at center stage, with a little synth solo at the end that was pretty lit. A red stage wash set the stage for “Western Wind”, a feel-good midtempo with hands clapping at the end. The 70s groover “Kollage” was bluesy and balladlike, with the pop star swaying in the middle of the stage during the instrumental closing. Disco tune “Psychedelic Switch” seemed to make the silver, mirrored stairs all the rage, with smoke shooting out from the floor again while the band members stood out on hi hat and bass. The dancers and musicians danced it out for Carly Rae Jepsen as she did her costume change.

Jepsen emerged in a pink, flowing sparkly tulle dress looking like a disco queen on the 90s-flavored R&B leaning “So Nice” with funk guitars going strong. Jepsen got her massive hit “Call Me Maybe” checked off the list, standing on the speakers and giving her fans a chance to sing back. It was a must, but it was clear this moment was about her disco sound. Jepsen was back on the center stage stairs for “Stay Away” moving and swaying and the bass line was extra hot for “Bad Thing Twice”. Pretty rhythmic ballad “Bends” had Jepsen’s arms overhead with the fans swaying theirs as well. The infectious “I Really Like You” had Jepsen smitten with the moment, embodying the song’s meaning with her hands up and later belting on the stairs.

The singers joined Carly Rae center stage, dancing while singing the flirtatious “Want You In My Room” with the fans repeating “go-go!” in a call-and-response. It was a song that brought some Spice Girls vibes, with Jepsen dancing with her guitarists and shouting “I wanna do bad things to you”. The musician who was previously on saxophone was now on trombone. The singer connected with fans center stage while singing “The Loneliest Time”, a dreamy disco tune, giving some Olivia Newton-John energy as the drummer killed it on the hi hat and the bass also delivered. Jepsen’s pink, blue and silver sparkle boots were moving and Jepsen did her spoken word portion with the fans shouting along with everyone’s hands were up including the singer.

In true diva style, Carly Rae Jepsen did not one, but two encores. Encore one had the crowd roaring and chanting her name. Danceable disco tune “So Right” had purples, blues and pinks enveloping the band with the trombone back for some extra power. The disco party continued with the musicians and singers clustered around Jepsen at the front of the stage during the fun “Beach House”, followed by the glistening “Come Over”. “I have to thank you so much for coming out on a Saturday night”, said Jepsen. She talked about clubbing as a teenager in Vancouver, Canada ahead of “I Didn’t Just Come Here To Dance”, a clever dance track from her 2015 album E•MO•TION, which seemed to signal a shift in her music to a dance sound. Jepsen worked the stage and spun around and had the whole place singing. On her second encore, the chanting continued, but most notably, Jepsen had a couple moments where her voice truly shined, starting off with “Go Find Yourself or Whatever”, seated center stage with her guitarist playing acoustic. The song may have reminded fans of the talented vocalist she is, the guitar break (from the guy who plays everything) was cool and the beautiful, heartfelt song was one of the best of the night. Downtempo “All That” is the slow jam that makes you pay attention and Jepsen really delivered on this 90s-sounding R&B track, with another superb vocal. Bass-heavy “Kamikaze” brought the pulses back up and got the bodies moving again, followed by show closer, the shimmering dance-pop anthem “Cut To The Feeling”. Jepsen had the place in a frenzy with smoke machines shooting again from the floor to the ceiling. Jepsen’s powerful vocal was met with a cheeky prop —the perfect blow-up sword which she pointed and struck as she danced like there was no other care in the world.

Words by Michael Menachem
Images by Tim Aarons