Keith Urban delivers with guitars and generosity
Caboolture boy turned country-rock crossover star Keith Urban delivered generority - and quite a few guitar solos- to a packed house at the start of his Australian tour, at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre on Friday, January 25, 2013. Photo: Harrison Saragossi
“This is the first night of our tour, so be kind to us,” said Keith Urban, three songs into his The Story So Far concert at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre last night.
The Caboolture boy turned country-rock crossover star needn’t have worried.
From the first chord to the last, the sold-out crowd united in an astonishingly passionate love of singing and guitar virtuosity, conducted by a performer supremely gifted in both his technical ability and his onstage generosity.
The Madden brothers perform ahead of Keith Urban at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre Friday, January 25, 2013. Photo: Harrison Saragossi
They sang when he asked them to. They sang when he didn’t ask them to. They cheered, they danced, they clapped, they stomped – they even attempted to grope him on his numerous runs through the auditorium. And that was just the blokes.
Yes, it turns out that Keith Urban really is quite pretty. Clad in black jeans with a cheeky hint of chest tattoo poking through his deep-cut V-neck fitted tee, his hair tumbling smoothly from its centre part, he’s every inch the charismatic rock star.
“His hair got much better after he married Nicole,” opined the mega-Urban fan friend I’d taken along to make up for my self-confessed unfamiliarity with much of Urban’s extensive back catalogue.
Keith Urban even played a cover of Oasis’ Wonderwall, and knocked it out of the ball park. Photo: Harrison Saragossi
“He must get treatments,” I pondered in reply. ‘Maybe blow dries.”
Urging the crowd to “have a hell of a good time”, Urban plunged into a set list that mixed high-energy anthems and lovelorn ballads, with older favourites like Days Go By, Who Wouldn’t Want to Be Me and Somebody Like You standing in good stead with newer tunes such as Long Hot Summer and You Gonna Fly.
There was even a cover of Oasis’ Wonderwall, a personal favourite, and Urban knocked it out of the ball park.
Normally I would give a more complete rundown of a show set-list, but seeing the excitement my mega-fan friend experienced at recognising the opening bars of each new number made me loathe to give away any spoilers.
Another reason for caution is that Urban planned surprises as part of this tour, including special guests, a montage of non-Urban hits from his excellent band, and even something of a parody of his more recent role as a reality TV show judge on The Voice and American Idol. I’d hate to ruin those surprises, but I will say the latter for me was funny, endearing and downright hilarious - one of the best moments of the concert.
Those segments drove home Urban’s absolute generosity onstage. He certainly possesses the cockiness and showmanship required of a bonafide rockstar, but his easygoing nature is happy letting others have their time to shine.
The overwhelming feeling I got from Urban was that he just adores playing his guitars, and is still amazed and grateful that people show up to watch him do so, particularly his home town crowd.
His technical mastery was on prominent display, with fiery fingerwork and effortless switching between electric and acoustic guitars, often in the one song.
Urban seemed to have an endless supply of different axes – certainly enough to give one away to an unsuspecting audience member after he ventured into the upper stands. I could see the look of utter joy on her face, and I was on the other side of the venue. I hope she went home and had had sweaty rock ‘n’ roll sex on that guitar. I know I wanted to.
If I had one niggle, it was that there were too many lengthy guitar solos. I started naming them according to Urban’s physicality at the time – the Limbo Solo, the Tai Chi Solo, the Swing Low Solo.
However, I was definitely in the minority. My mega-fan friend and others I spoke to all marvelled at Urban’s endurance, focus and flair with his instrument. We also wondered if he might have had a spray tan, or if it was just a side-effect of the inventive lighting design.
The rest of Urban’s tour is virtually sold out, but if he adds extra dates or if you have the chance to grab a ticket, I heartily recommend it. His crossover country style may not be to everyone’s taste, but the crowd involvement and enthusiasm at last night’s gig was absolutely something to see.
And the hair wasn’t bad either.