Urban Tour Places Artist Closer To Fans

Keith Urban’s Get Closer World Tour enthralled a sold-out Bridgestone Arena crowd in downtown Nashville, Aug. 6. “The idea of the Get Closer stage,” Urban told the crowd, “is to do away with the fences so there’s no me and you— just us…” And that’s how it was.

The Aussie was all over the arena. He and his four piece band owned a simple but, visually compelling stage. In addition, Urban performed on a small circular hydraulic platform in the center of the crowd and later at the rear of the hall—delighting fans in the process, slapping hands as he navigated the throng.

Urban played a variety of guitars including a Gibson ES-335, and what looked to be (based upon the tailpiece and single coil pickup) a Gold Top early ‘50s Les Paul. He also favored a Fender Startocaster and Telecaster, plus acoustic and gut string instruments.

Urban swept the crowd to its feet beginning with “Days Go By,” quickly followed with strong hits like “Raining On Monday” and “Put You In A Song.” The charismatic singer/songwriter/guitarist, who was CMA Entertainer of the Year in 2005 and Male Vocalist numerous times, has always displayed rare vocal and instrumental ability. But on this tour, he has added an astute interactive element making the show more accessible and boosting its entertainment value. Judging by the crowd’s reaction, there was no doubt that Mr. Urban is country’s 2011 Entertainer of the Year…

It was the sum of all the little things, like taking time to read some of the signs held up by fans.

“Wow, you drove 1400 miles to be here, thank you so much.”

“Keith, it’s been a long hot summer waiting to CU.”

“We’ve been to 47 shows in 24 cities.”

“A picture with you would be priceless.”

“Come and get it,” Urban laughed after reading, pleasing the crowd and giving a fan that 10 seconds of fame of which dreams are made as they made a candid shot together on stage.

Jake Owen was a truly impressive opening act. His bravado, and clear baritone voice made him an instant fan favorite, with songs like “Starting With Me,” his new single “Barefoot Blue Jean Night,” the riveting new ballad “Alone With You.”

Deep into “Kiss A Girl,” the artist shouted out, “Nashville you’re a singing crowd tonight.” He then randomly chose three fans and conducted a mini-Urban Idol contest giving each one a chance to perform the “Kiss A Girl” chorus center stage and judging the winner based upon applause. The crowd was rapt.

“Til Summer Comes Around,” was a concert highpoint. Fans already know that Urban’s prodigious guitar has distinct personalities. For this song, co-written with Monty Powell, he painted with sustain-packed notes in Santana-esque fashion punctuated with blistering note clusters grouped together like infinite solar systems whirling through space and time. Video b-roll played on the oversize mirror monitor as the star sang,

“The words came out, I kissed your mouth,
No fourth of July has ever burned so brightly
You had to go, I understand, but you swore that you’d be back again
And so I’m frozen in this town, til summer comes around.”

It’s a safe bet his fans will be back again, lined up to purchase seats… Over the past few albums, Urban and producer Dann Huff have fashioned a unique and commercial sound that has exposed Urban’s talent, but does makes it difficult, especially  in a live setting to distinguish which album a particular song is from.

Keith Urban with unidentified fan backstage.

“What a magical night tonight,” Urban said to the crowd after two encores, dripping with sweat and glowing like a firebug. “Thank you so much for making the decision, especially in these hard times when I know many of you are facing problems like lost jobs to spend your evening with us. I love you.”

 

Photos: BossRoss

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David M. Ross has been covering Nashville's music industry for over 25 years. [email protected]

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