Canadian country artist Brett Kissel electrified a sold-out audience of over 700 when he took the stage at the Algonquin Commons Theatre Feb. 14.
Kissel, a 27-year old native of Flat Lake, Alta. returned to Ottawa for his 22nd stop on the “We Were That Song” tour.
The energy in the venue was off the charts, which is one of the reasons Kissel loves to come back to Canada’s capital.
“It is one of our favourite venues in Canada, the crowd and crew are amazing,” Kissel said in an interview with the Times before the show.
Kissel played a good mix of songs from all three of his albums “Started With A Song”, “Pick Me Up” and his newest album “We Were That Song”. The notable hits of the night were Canadian Kid which is a song about growing up as a kid in northern Alberta playing hockey and staying true to your Canadian roots.
Kissel, who now resides in Nashville with his wife and two young daughters, loves gigs in Canada because he can perform songs that he has written like Canadian Kid and talk about how the country is the greatest hockey nation. When he is performing at venues in the U.S., he has to change things up a bit and be more “Americanized.”
“It’s all about knowing your audience,” he said. “We are all the same, we love country music, drinking beer and hurting songs.”
The interaction between Kissel and his fans was very apparent at this bash.
Even though a crowd of over 700 people were in attendance, the event felt like a small intimate concert. Nothing proved this more than when Kissel played I Didn’t Fall in Love With Your Hair, a very special song that he wrote about his mother’s battle with cancer. This song came out in 2015 and in the first month of its release raised $55,000 for cancer research.
The emotion in the room was high when the crowd turned on the flashlights on their cell phones and held them up as he sang.
Kissel said in the interview that he feels very blessed to be able to travel across Canada and play country music and has his fans to thank for that.
“I think that’s how I will continue to maintain my humility throughout the years and the way to maintain it is to never lose it, to never think I’m bigger than my fans and bigger than this genre.”
Kissel also tipped his hat to some of the veterans of this genre by playing some much-loved traditional country songs, most notably one by the legendary Johnny Cash, who was one of his earliest musical influences. As an upbeat and energetic entertainer, it should come as no surprise that Kissel also takes inspiration from Garth Brooks, who he opened for in 2016
During the concert, however, love was definitely in the air with couples slow dancing and enjoying the perfect Valentine’s Day. Kissel took a moment to sing “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran then said out to the crowd, “give me a minute to go kiss my wife” as he swiftly left the stage for a second before returning to continue the dynamic performance.
Kissel had the crowd on their feet until the very end of the night when everyone was chanting for an encore and an encore he did perform. He wrapped it up with “Ordinary Day” by Maritime band Great Big Sea.
What’s next for Kissel?
The We Were That Song tour will continue for the rest of the year with only part one having been announced. “Me and my wife are going to spend more time on the tour bus then at our house” but that’s okay he said because they will be together.
“Once 2018 is done, 2019 will be about focusing on the arts, creating a new record, but this year is all about promoting this new record, making new fans and reintroducing ourselves to our old fans.”
Based on the reaction of the fans who filled the Algonquin Commons Theatre this won’t be a problem.
Jeff Pelletier Arts reporter for The Charlatan says, “It was a fantastic show from start to finish.”
Brett Kissel’s “We Were That Song” tour, part one, runs until the end of March with stops in Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver among others.
The special bash was hosted by Ottawa New Country 94.