The Centennial Theatre in North Vancouver was the latest stop on Brett Kissel’s extensive We Were That Song tour. Whilst not known as a hotbed of country music, the audience were certainly ready with a warm and enthusiastic welcome for Kissel and his talented band.
I think it is fair to say that Brett Kissel is Canadian country music through and through. Having released his first album at the age of 12, he had already released three by the time he was nominated for the Rising Star Award at the CCMA’s in 2006. At the age of 16 he was the youngest ever nominee in the history of the awards.
Kissel’s first album for Warner, Started with a Song, was released in 2013, and peaked at the Number One position on CMT Canada’s Chevrolet Top 20 Countdown, and spawned serval hit singles, including the title track and “Raise Your Glass”. This breakthrough album as also led to success at several music award ceremonies, including the ACMA, CCMA, and the Juno’s.
Ore success followed with the albums Pick Me Up and the latest offering We Were That Song.
Whilst the albums are fantastic, it is in front of a live audience that Kissel comes to life, and fortunately for fans Kissel was on top form on Friday. After a warm up set from the talented Dan Davidson, the crowd was more than ready when Kissel and band hit the stage. Right from the start it was clear this was going to be a party, and everyone was OK with that. Kissel made it clear that the reception that he got at the venue were just what he needed to round of was has been a great week for him. He had just been asked to sing the National Anthem at this weekend’s Grey Cup game. As a good Canadian, and as he already had the fans on their feet anyway, he led the crowd in a practice for the weekend’s events 😊.
This interaction with the audience would continue throughout the show. It is always great when an artist can easily connect with their audience, and Kissel is a master at this. Whether it was tossing t-shirts, signed hats, picks to the crowd, or stopping mid-song to take selfies with fans, his easy demeanour, and genuine appreciation of his fans made for a fun evening.
The set itself was a mix of songs from his latest album, some of his more popular songs from earlier albums, a couple of cover’s a fun Country medley, and even a brand-new song thrown into the mix.
Kicking off the night with We Were That Song, early highlights in the set included Guitars and Gasoline, Canadian Kid, raise your glass, and one of my personal favourites Drink, Cuss or Fish, which I think will be an audience sing along for year to come.
During Pick Me Up, Kissel playfully took the mobile phone from one of the audience, and filmed the song for him, something that I am sure will be a treasure. Next up was one of Kissel’s favourites from George Strait – Check Yes or No, a song he associates closely with as it was out when he was in 3rd grade.
Following an intro to the talented musicians in the band, Kissel related another anecdote about meeting Vice Gill at a Predators hockey game and treated the audience to a wonderful rendition of Adriana.
Next up was the poignant Tough People Do, a song Kissel penned after losing his grandparents. This was one of at least a couple of songs borne out of personal struggles, as the beautiful I Didn’t Fall in Love with Your Hair speaks to the battle with cancer, something Kissel has seen is mother fight through. Both songs provided tender moments of reflection during the set. For the latter it was good to hear that proceeds from the song have gone to the Canadian Cancer Society.
Following these songs, it was a party all the way home. Kissel mentioned he felt comfortable enough with the audience to debut a new song Never Have I Ever. BTW – this is first of two new songs debuted this weekend, as Kissel released another on Sunday to reveal the gender of baby #3 – check it out below:
A medley of country favourites took us into the last part of the show, with Kissel playfully pretending not to want to play Shania Twains Feel Like a Woman. It didn’t really matter as the audience were singing all the words by this point anyway.
The main part of the show rounded out with the ode to his wife Cecilia, and the amazing Anthem, one of the best tracks of the latest album.
For short while the audience thought that there was going to be no encore as the venue switched on the house lights after the set, but of course Kissel and band returned to close out the night with the playful 3-2-1.
Whilst it may not be known as a country music mecca, the local audience really did know how to have fun and have hopefully done enough to make this a regular stop for artists passing through these parts.
If you want to find about Brett, check out his website at http://www.brettkissel.com/
Check out our images from the show below:
Photos: Stewart Johnstone