The moon is high and the night is young, come on and meet me…
The lyrics to Keith Urban’s “Sweet Thing” neatly summarized Friday night (Sept. 6) in Nashville for thousands of music aficionados. The triple threat guitar picker, vocalist and songwriter, flanked by his band of capable string-pickers and rhythm keepers, kept the musical revelry going from dusk well into the evening as he previewed songs from upcoming album Fuse, slated to be released Tuesday (Sept. 10).
The evening began with an outdoor concert at Nashville’s Cumberland Park, which streamed live for Yahoo! Ram Country and in NYC’s Time Square. The tone for the evening was set with a handful of familiar hits, beginning with the wholly appropriate “Long Hot Summer,” followed by “Sweet Thing.”
He slowed down the momentum for the debut performance of “Cop Car,” a quirky, sultry ballad of a romance stemming from illegal hijinks and their handcuffed consequences. He followed it by returning largely to his musical wheelhouse for another featured song from Fuse, “Even The Stars Fall 4 U,” a poetic lyric laid atop a bed of rock rhythms and tight harmonies.
Far from just a preview of the album, the full-production concert was a glimpse into the musical exuberance that lingers throughout the Light The Fuse Tour, an evening cloaked with giddy (though not overly indulgent) guitar solos and helmed by Urban’s easygoing command of the stage.
Flanked by Danny Rader, Brian Nutter, Chris McHugh and Jerry Flowers, Urban returned to his previous hit “You Gonna Fly” before welcoming guest Eric Church for the folksy “Raise Em’ Up,” an all-encompassing anthem rallying the support of music, love, the flag, and families. He followed with “Good Thing,” a Southern rock-soaked diddy that finds Urban claiming he “knows a good thing when he sees it.” Another track from Fuse and sure to be a crowd pleaser.
He ended with the enduring “Somebody Like You,” a soul-lifting romp of self-forgiveness and romantic courage, which still commands an audience sing-along more than 10 years after its release. Indeed, Urban briefly handed over lead vocal duties, deftly highlighting the melody with his own guitar work. An extended guitar solo led to a performance of the tune’s additional verses included at the end of Urban’s Golden Road.
Urban then made the jaunt to a trio of clubs in Nashville, including The Stage, Tootsies and Legend’s Corner. During his club show at Tootsies, Urban welcomed a special, surprise guest as Aerosmith frontman and former American Idol judge Steven Tyler joined him onstage for a collaboration (starts at 7:03).
For all the No. 1 songs, awards, increased television exposure thanks to the American Idol circuit, and well-documented rise to the upper crust of Country music fame, it is clear that at the core, Urban remains a musician’s musician. And a passionate music enthusiast who delights in the shared joy that draws in both artist and fan, regardless whether the setting is a outdoor venue or an intimate music hub dotting the downtown streets.
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