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  • Writer's pictureSierra Potts

Saxe Appeal: JP Saxe Shines at The Kessler Theater

"My manager said it was cool to make this show like an hour, hour-fifteen if I wanted” JP Saxe shared with the audience, almost 2 full hours into his set. Saxe spoke to a completely sold-out crowd Tuesday night at The Kessler Theater, a historic landmark nestled in the heart of the Bishop Arts district in Dallas, Texas. From the start of his performance, Saxe openly admitted to grappling with a lost voice earlier in the day, however it wasn’t apparent in his singing. Saxe attributed his vocal strength to a cocktail of adrenaline, lemon, boba tea (generously provided by a young fan), and “Texas Affection”. What was meant to be an abridged evening to provide vocal rest turned into the longest show of his A Grey Area Tour so far.



In contrast to most stops on this tour, the Dallas show was predominantly acoustic, without backup from his usual full band. The cozy and warm atmosphere of The Kessler proved perfect for this stripped-down performance, allowing Saxe to ditch his in-ear monitors and connect on a more personal level with his fans. This allowed for an evening of banter and audience interaction, showcasing Saxe’s charming and kind (stereotypically Canadian) personality.



Before the start of his song, "Fear & Intuition", a journey through the lessons learned from his various homes, Saxe paused to receive input from the Dallas crowd. A testament to his songwriting ability, Saxe replaced references to L.A. and Toronto with a Texas twist right on the spot. "Texas told me to buy a truck, sing country music, and get married young," Saxe sang, which was met with laughter and nods of agreement from the Texas natives in the audience.

Saxe has been joined on this tour by opener Nicole Zignago, an incredibly talented singer-songwriter born and raised in Peru. Zignago joined Saxe on stage for a rendition of his song “Anywhere”, the third track on his latest album, A Grey Area. Throughout the night  Saxe was also joined by guitarists Alex Sutton and TJ Whitelaw, the latter of whom Saxe proudly reveals he has known since he was just 14 years old.



Saxe effortlessly transitioned between center stage and his piano, its design echoing the graphics of his electric guitar and the rug beneath his mic stand, all reminiscent of his A Grey Area album cover. The rest of his stage was illuminated by various lamps, ornamental rugs, and decorative plants, providing an inviting backdrop that imitated the feeling of being at home. To add to that feeling of belonging, Saxe spoke directly to the audience, telling us stories, jokes, and even treating us to a slam poetry-esque rendition of “Who You Thought I’d Be”- “a love song for your ex and their new person”.



Throughout the night we were treated to two unreleased songs from Saxe’s upcoming album, expected to release sometime this summer. The first, and my personal favorite, is a letter from Saxe to his 16-year-old self, titled “Okay Anyway”. Calling it now, it will personally be my cry-in-the-car song of the summer, Saxe’s way of reminding us it gets better. The second, “How to Stay Human”, was an emotional ballad. Saxe prefaced the song by telling listeners that it is “the most a song has ever felt like what it is to be myself in this current moment”. Saxe has been promoting this song on his social media accounts and has received profound reactions from fans who are eagerly expecting its full release.



As our evening together drew to a close Saxe chose to forego the encore charade to let the audience know there were three songs left in his set. However, as the third, and what should’ve been final, song came to a close Saxe drew attention to a couple in the very front row wearing matching shirts. On them, a crossword spelling out “Hey Stupid, I Love You”. Saxe immediately dove into a condensed version of his hit song (currently his 4th most played on Spotify), interrupting himself momentarily to say “imagine walking away from this saying ‘we made shirts and he didn’t even play the song!’”. HSILY is without a doubt my personal favorite of Saxe’s entire discography, so to them I say a resounding THANK YOU.

This performance at The Kessler Theater was truly outstanding. Despite facing vocal challenges, Saxe delivered an unforgettable show, embracing the audience with his raw vocal talent and engaging presence. I was already a JP Saxe fan, but this show solidified that in my mind. Overall, it was a night filled with great music and genuine moments that left a lasting impression on everyone in attendance. At the time of writing this, JP Saxe has 25 more dates on his North American tour, and I highly recommend attending a show (or three) if you can.



Setlist:

When You Think of Me (intro banter: not wearing ear monitors tonight)

Fear & Intuition (performed ad lib reprise with crowd-sourced ideas)

Okay Anyway (new song. expected summer 2024 release.)

How to Stay Human (new song. expected summer 2024 release.)

ENCORE:


originally written for Good Guys Press: link to that article here

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