Carly Rae Jepsen’s set at the Warfield on Saturday was akin to ‘80s night at a karaoke bar — with none of the cheesy retro schmaltz and all of the sentimental, plainspoken devotion.
The Canadian pop talent doesn’t carry herself with Beyonce’s decadent bombast or Katy Perry’s outlandish drama-kid theatrics. She’s pure girl-next-door realness, and her onstage demeanor is set upon this everyday charm, as if her headlining tour were merely another girls’ night out.
But Jepsen strutted onto the stage at the Warfield with the newfound confidence of a young woman downing her first shot of a wild night. Before performing the Sia-penned “Boy Problems,” she cheered, “I’ve got my whiskey — so we can do it!”
Jepsen was all smiles, plucking out songs from her impeccable 2015 critics’ favorite Emotion.
That the whole crowd, from the V.I.P.-toting devotees at the front to the nosebleed-seat fans who rushed to the front of the balcony, chanted the album’s lyrics along with her was just the cherry on top of the evening.
Much of Jepsen’s set bloomed through her organic, live-band surroundings. Emotion showstopper and set opener “Run Away With Me,” with its exuberant saxophone opening, reverberated throughout the venue. The effect was akin to airhorns at a DJ Khaled show — all glee and anticipation for the night ahead.
“Tonight I’m Getting Over You,” a highlight from Jepsen’s plastic-wrapped, electropop breakthrough Kiss, was dressed up in glammy synth stabs and new wave guitar riffs, a makeover that gave the song’s celebratory kiss-off a Cyndi Lauper-esque confidence.
Much of the night revolved around pure, unfiltered love from everyone in the Warfield — fitting, given that she dubbed her tour the “Gimmie Love” tour.
“This room is full of love — you can feel it!” Jepsen exclaimed as her set began to wind down. When audience members weren’t voguing or just mouthing the words like familiar gospel, they were holding hands and looking at each other with unbridled joy.
Friends and lovers alike slow-danced to set highlight “All That,” the obligatory prom song of the night and the most tender moment of the night.
Fittingly, her pre-show playlist ran through ‘80s mainstays such as the Pet Shop Boys and Whitney Houston. As the audience belted along to “I Wanna Dance with Somebody,” the night’s theme of nostalgia was set.
Her closing duo of songs — the one-two punch of Jepsen’s greatest hits, “Call Me Maybe” and “I Really Like You” — had the same effect. Looking in awe as the audience sang along to every word, Jepsen was satisfied to let the hits play — even though they were hers.