I deviate from my usual review of an album to bring to light a concert I recently attended at Vancouver’s Rogers Arena. For the first time, I decided to attend a concert although I was only fully interested in the opening act, as I was not going to pass up the opportunity to see at least some songs from Carly Rae Jepsen’s commercially snubbed and critically praised fantastic album E-MO-TION. However, by the end of the night I was surprised by the raw energy that can be brought about by the dying art of the true rock band, and remembered why Hedley has been capable in the past of producing some of my favourite songs in my younger days, such as “For The Nights I Can’t Remember”, and left very satisfied with both acts. The realization dawned on me that I must have been one of the only concertgoers who was there for Carly Rae Jepsen’s new music, as well as Hedley’s old music – seeing as they have drifted closer to the pop territory in recent years.
To begin with the act that initially drew my interest, it was evident that the majority of the audience viewed Jepsen as a tacky one-hit wonder, drawn into the slot of an opening act for the appeal of a gimmicky and now years-old song. I wouldn’t blame her if Jepsen strongly dislikes “Call Me Maybe” by now in the wake of her evolution to a critically acclaimed indie-pop songstress, working with the likes of Dev Hynes of Blood Orange, Rostam Batmanglij of Vampire Weekend and Ariel Rechtshaid (Sky Ferreira, Haim). It may be the reason why she only sold 16,000 copies of her latest project, as people only expect what she delivered on what became one of the biggest songs of all time. Even those in the audience I caught singing to songs other than “Maybe” were singing to the sparse additional songs from its parent album she performed, such as “Curiosity”. If Jepsen harbours any resentment to the strange situation her career is in at the moment, she certainly did not display it on stage, and the excitement and energy she threw into the 7-8 E-MO-TION tracks performed made her shortened setlist worth it all the same. One of my favourite songs of 2015, “All That”, performed in a live setting as cellphone lights waved in the air, was an amazing experience. The opener, “Run Away With Me”, where one might have expected a backing track containing the elements of the jazz band which forms the instrumental from another artist, was performed with live instruments and the catchiest of all melodys translated extremely well into performance. Hopefully the placement of E-MO-TION on many of the year’s “best of” lists will gain Jepsen more recognition in the future.
As Hedley took to the stage, I mentally prepared myself for the worst as they reserved the opening of the show for the majority of songs from their latest pop-leaning album, Hello, culminating in an inexplicable mashup of “Lean On”, “Uptown Funk” and Justin Bieber’s “Sorry”. However, frontman Jacob Hoggard finally rhetorically posed to the crowd if they were familiar with their old music and brought out the acoustic guitars for “Gunnin’”, which immediately led into piano ballad “For The Nights I Can’t Remember”. This somber and yet familiar section of the setlist prepared me for the second half of high-energy rock and roll performance, and all that may have lacked in quality was made up for in charm. At one point, Hoggard berated a fan whom he caught texting to the point of going through most of the contents of her phone and calling her dad to hilarious results. Older songs such as “On My Own” and “Cha-Ching” have not lost any of what made them fun over the years. As the concert closed with a surprisingly beautiful cover of “Unchained Melody”, and a dedication to his sister, who was in attendance for her birthday, with the song “Darling”, I realized how much I had enjoyed the full set of a band which I have lost interest in over the years. Although they’ve now been going at it for 10 years, I hope they can continue to find the inspiration which led to some of the soundtrack of my late childhood.