As Friday night grew darker and the music played on, Brett Kissel looked out over the CNE crowd and exclaimed, “I think it’s safe to say that country music is alive and well in Toronto!”.
The Alberta native couldn’t have been more correct on a day when 5 Canadian country artists took the stage at the Canadian National Exhibition. On the Northern Comfort Saloon stage both Ty Baynton and Andrew Hyatt played three hour sets for exhibition attendees, and on the legendary bandshell stage, Abby Stewart and Beamer Wigley opened for Brett Kissel himself, the 2016 Canadian Country Music Association Male Artist of the Year and Fans’ Choice Award winner.
As the bandshell stage began with Abby Stewart and Beamer Wigley, the crowd began to build. The two teenage country singers and songwriters played a selection of original songs and covers of popular duets including Keith Urban/Miranda Lambert’s We Were Us, Chris Young/Cassadee Pope’s Think Of You, and Jason Aldean/Kelly Clarkson’s Don’t You Wanna Stay. Both of the up-and-comers showed the kind of stage presence that will carry them into the future of their careers, and their talent (which continues to grow) is apparent now to anyone who sees and hears them.
Keep your eyes open for more from Abby Stewart and Beamer Wigley on the Canadian country music scene.
During a break in the bandshell action we jumped over to the Saloon to see Andrew Hyatt on stage, and the Nickel City native didn’t disappoint. As we know him to do, Hyatt put on a show that featured covers like Keith Urban’s Cop Car, his own fan favourites including, MGR (Me And A Girl And A Radio) and She Ain’t You, plus his first radio Top 20 single, On Me.
When the time came for the main event on the bandshell stage, Toronto was ready.
Brett Kissel and his band hit the stage hard, opening the set with Started With A Song and continuing with a string of hits, covers, and new songs that stretched into the night and kept summer alive as the Labour Day long weekend started.
As cheers rang out, Kissel and his dudes gave their last show of the summer everything they had. Their enthusiasm and energy were likely boosted (very reasonably) by the pre-show presentation of gold records for Started With A Song and Pick Me Up – his first two golds – but not his last.
It’s obvious to say that Brett Kissel is one of Canadian country music’s biggest stars, but what has become clear to us is that he keeps getting better and better as the songs, albums, shows, and years accumulate in his career. The differences are small, but visible. The showmanship, the engagement, the comfort levels, the willingness to take a chance, the heart on his sleeve, the passion for the show – they have all increased since we first saw him in 2014, and when he played the CNE bandshell stage two years ago in 2015.
Related: Brett Kissel at the 2015 CNE!
One of our favourite moments in the set came when Brett introduced Take It Easy by his favourite band, The Eagles. He told the crowd that it was his band’s favourite song to play by the legendary rockers, and that they’d like to play it in tribute of Glenn Frey, who passed away in 2016. Kissel also sent the song out to his dad who is currently in hospital, but we hope will be home very soon. It was emotional and sweet, and everything we love about moments that come from live music experiences.
Note: We would like to send our best wishes to Brett, his family, and his dad. If you would like to pass on your positive vibes, click here and send him a tweet.
Another of our favourite moments came earlier in the show when a five year old named Reggie and his dad came up on stage to meet Brett. Reggie was a little shy on stage, but his fandom was rewarded with a signed guitar from the singer, and his name being chanted loudly by the Toronto crowd. It was a special moment, and one we hope he repeats as often as possible.
This Canadian kid, the dude nominated for five Canadian Country Music Association awards (Male Artist, Single, Video, Songwriter, and Interactive Artist of the Year ) in 2017, and performing on the award show Sunday, September 8 on the CBC, is the real deal. He’s legit. He’s a star. And we’re happy that we’ve seen him along the way.
Friday night in Toronto, Brett Kissel and his band finished their summer with a bang. They were loud, they were happy, they were strong, and they made everyone in the crowd hope that they’ll be back again soon.
Brett Kissel Setlist, CNE 2017
🇨🇦 Started With A Song
🇨🇦 Something You Just Don’t Forget
🇨🇦 She’s Desire
🇨🇦 Canadian Kid
🇨🇦 Tough People Do
🇨🇦 Pick Me Up
🇨🇦 Cool With That
🇨🇦 Take It Easy (The Eagles)
🇨🇦 We Were That Song
🇨🇦 I Didn’t Fall In Love With Your Hair
🇨🇦 Ordinary Day (Great Big Sea)
🇨🇦 Callin’ Baton Rouge (Garth Brooks)
🇨🇦 Raise Your Glass/Pour Some Sugar On Me (Def Leppard)
🇨🇦 Thank God I’m A Country Boy (John Denver)/Honey, I’m Good (Andy Grammer)/Mountain Music (Alabama)