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Carly Rae Jepsen at Glastonbury review: Polished and dynamic

Glasto revellers were truly under her spell, Joseph Ryan-Hicks says

4.0 rating

By Joseph Ryan-Hicks

Carly Rae Jepsen performs at Day 3 of Glastonbury Festival in a pink outfit
Carly Rae Jepsen performs at Day 3 of Glastonbury Festival 2023 on 23 June (Image: Shirlaine Forrest/Redferns )

It’s hard not to feel blessed as a pop fan at this year’s Glastonbury Festival. Rina Sawayama, Alison Goldfrapp and Christine and The Queens are but a few of this year’s finest representatives. Among those is perhaps one of the most qualified pop stars of the last ten years – Canadian royalty, Carly Rae Jepsen.

For an unfortunate few, she’s ‘that one who sang ‘Call Me Maybe’’. For even fewer, she was a contestant on Canadian Idol in 2007, placing third. But for the girls who know, Ms Jepsen is responsible for some of the last decade’s biggest pop bangers. Pride Month might almost be over, but there was a true sense of queer joy as the gays and theys ascended on the Other Stage for one of the festival’s biggest pop parties.

Bounding on stage in a stylish pink co-ord and flowing blonde locks, she exuded the confidence only a seasoned performer of her calibre could. Jepsen knew the gays were already in the palm of her hand. Now she needed to win over the straights.

‘Run Away with Me’, with its goosebump-inducing opening riff, was enough to alert the crowd to dance. This high-energy continued with the live debut of the disco-tinged ‘Shy Boy’ and ex kiss-off ‘Talking to Yourself’. Then, perhaps prematurely, Jepsen launched into her 2012 mega-hit, ‘Call Me Maybe’. Whilst surprising that her most recognisable hit came so early in the set, it was a reminder that bigger and better was to come.

Euphoric crowd-pleaser

The 70s funk of ‘Want You in My Room’ was a highlight. Joining her backing vocalists for a cute, choreographed moment, Jepsen’s euphoria of performing for the keen crowd was palpable. “I used to think this song was just about picking someone up,” she joked, before the house-y bass of ‘I Didn’t Just Come Here to Dance’ kicked in. Suffice to say many of the loved-up crowd could echo the track’s mission statement.

Whilst being mostly back-to-back stompers, Jepsen took a moment’s respite with the bewitching ‘Western Wind’ – a song about losing a loved one during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was a unifying moment for her and her audience. Closing the set with the TikTok-viral ‘The Loneliest Time’ (sans featured artist Rufus Wainwright) and equally viral ‘Cut to the Feeling’, revellers at the Other Stage were well and truly under her spell.  

Upon hearing the best of Jepsen’s impressive discography, I was reminded of how many of the 37-year-old’s tracks were certifiable hits, whether it be on social media or the charts. The singer’s music has become a staple in gay clubs around the world, with tracks such as ‘Cut to the Feeling’ and ‘Call Me Maybe’ being staple spins. But seeing Jepsen at Worthy Farm, in front of an audience of tens of thousands, was a reminder of what a polished and dynamic live performer she is. Her live show is a must-see.