JP Saxe leaves the Algonquin Commons Theatre infatuated

The Canadian musician sold out the college venue during his 27th stop in his "A Grey Area World Tour"
Photo: Itel Sapozhnikov
JP Saxe performs at the Algonquin Commons Theatre.

JP Saxe took fans on an emotional journey ranging from tears to laughter during his stop in Ottawa at the Algonquin Commons Theatre on March 8.

With tickets sold out, the Toronto-based musician had the audience captivated with his soulful vocals and moving lyrics about relationships and personal growth, and his skill with both piano and guitar.

Saxe and his band consisting of Adam Hanson, TJ Whitelaw and Alex Sutton started the show with Someone Else’s Home.

“I just feel like I really connect with the way he writes his music,” said Almiña Caminero, a paramedic student at Algonquin College. “It’s so emotional, the words are very powerful, very meaningful.”

Caminero has been listening to Saxe since last year and this was her first time seeing him in concert.

“I just paid attention to the lyrics and it caught my heart,” she said.

The stage was set to look like a living room, which created a home-like feeling. There were a couple of lounge chairs with throw pillows, rugs, plants, lamps and photos that were hung at the back of the stage.

The set list contained a variety of songs ranging from newly released music to more known hits that had the audience singing along.

In between performances, Saxe took a few minutes to interact with the audience by sharing stories about his past, his experiences and the inspiration behind his songs, all while weaving in playful banter.

While introducing his song For Emilee, Saxe explained that he wrote this song for a friend of his who was “accepting a version of love that was far less wonderful than I think she is.”

His authenticity and clever wit with the audience created a warm atmosphere inside the theatre.

“I found a bit of a pattern at these shows where people come with their friends, and from time to time their friends were in similar situations [as his friend Emilee] …and I like to be involved,” said Saxe while introducing the song, causing the crowd to laugh.

During his set, Saxe played around with the style and genre of his music. He offered a choice between a jazzy version or a sing-along version.

“I loved how he was able to turn really sad songs and make them pop and punchy,” said Alex Tassoni, a fan who has been listening to his music since the pandemic. “I thought I would be crying tonight, and the fact that I am not is really cool.”

The singer-songwriter connected with the crowd by asking if he had moved to Ottawa instead of Los Angeles, what would they have suggested to him.

People shouted out random ideas such as leave, vote, sleep and work in the government, which caught Saxe’s attention and it turned into a small discussion full of jokes.

Within minutes, Saxe showcased his talent and added a few ideas into a short song about the different cities where he has performed.

Saxe made a joke about how using Few Things as a first-dance song at a wedding would result in a successful marriage.

A fan close to the barrier shouted that they danced to the song during their wedding, which resulted in a heartwarming moment of Saxe turning towards the fan and singing the start of the song to them.

Near the end of the show, Saxe performed his Grammy-nominated song If the World Was Ending.

Japanese-Canadian and American-born artist Justin Nozuka was the opener for the show and serenaded the audience with his unique and smooth voice. The musician’s genre of music lies within the range of R&B, folk and pop. Nozuka took photos and interacted with supporters outside the theatre during an intermission.

After Saxe’s set ended, the theatre erupted in applause and cheers. New fans and long-time fans left the building with a memory and a piece of JP Saxe to take home with them.

“I’ve also found that sharing nights like this with beautiful people like all of you who share love for the way art can bring us together, that keeps me human,” said Saxe.

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