The past few days have been a bit of a homecoming for Canadian pop star Carly Rae Jepsen. The Mission native launched her cross-Canada tour with two sold out shows at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver and came to Victoria Sunday evening to perform to a boisterous crowd at The Royal Theatre.

Early on Jepsen mentioned her Victoria connection having lived here when she was a student at the Canadian College of Performing Arts. She later told the crowd her grandmother was in attendance.

Jepsen’s headlining show was a complete 180 contrast from what we experience the last time she performed in Victoria in 2016 opening for Hedley. Back then her hair was dark, her bandmates were dressed in black and Jepsen’s movements on stage felt forced. Three years later, the band stepped on the stage in all white and Jepsen joined them in a bright orange unitard and orange skirt, platinum blonde hair and an engaging stage presence.

Her voice was on point throughout her set sounding relaxed and hitting notes with ease. Her movements around the stage also burst with confidence showing you don’t need a dance troupe to put on an entertaining pop show.

While we could tell much of the show from the hand movements to banter transitioning between songs was likely heavily planned and rehearsed, it never felt like someone just going through a routine. Carly Rae Jepsen’s smash hit ‘Call Me Maybe’ was the sixth song in her set, but with her dedicated fanbase, she almost doesn’t need to perform the song anymore. While Jepsen’s setlist during the ‘Dedicated Tour’ has been pretty much the same at every show, she did make a setlist change Sunday replacing the 11th song which had been ‘For Sure’ in all previous shows with ‘Cry’.

She’s slowly becoming Canada’s version of Robyn. Gain early mainstream success with radio hits, build a large die-hard fanbase, then release critically acclaimed music. We observed many people in the audience including young girls jumping and dancing with excitement to songs that have never seen the light of day on the radio.

With so much music about love and breakups, there were a couple songs in the set that felt a bit cheesy such as her song ‘Store,’ but as a 38-year-old male, I’m not exactly the target demographic.

Jepsen performed a 22-song set which included a 3-song encore which closed out with ‘Cut to The Feeling.’ There were a couple points in the set were Jepsen’s keyboard player switched to playing saxophone. While watching him play the sax I wondered why he didn’t step out front? He finally did in the encore during ‘Let’s Get Lost.’

Opening the night was Toronto pop artist RALPH. The 2017 Rifflandia vet returned for the second time this year. She was last in Victoria in February opening for Ria Mae. RALPH performed an 8 song set as people filed into The Royal Theatre. While there were a few people scattered in the theatre standing up and dancing to her synth-pop, most just sat in their chairs. On the plus site, it seemed like the audience was at least politely listening to the performance and not chatting.

Carly Rae Jepsen Setlist
1. No Drug Like Me
3. Run Away With Me
4. Julien
5. Happy Not Knowing
6. Call Me Maybe
7. Now That I Found You
8. Gimmie Love
9. Feels Right
10. Fever
11. Cry
12. Want You in My Room
13. Store
14. Too Much
15. When I Needed You
16. I Really Like You
17. Everything He Needs
18. Boy Problems
19. Party for One
20. Real Love
21. Let’s Get Lost
22. Cut to the Feeling

RALPH Setlist
2. Weather
3. No Fuss No Muss
4. Tease
5. Cereal
6. Tables Have Turned
7. Cold to The Touch
8. Gravity