August 28, 2011
American Airlines Center
Dallas, TX USA
Review by Kameron Holbrook
Photos by David Warhoftig
It’s been a very long and hot summer in Dallas to say the least. Keith Urban’s scorching performance at the American Airlines Center did little to cool things off. There’s a reason this New Zealand born artist always seems to be nominated in the Entertainer of the Year category at various country music award shows. He doesn’t play to a crowd, he connects with them. Add that ingredient to an outstanding mix of hit singles, and the recipe for a successful show is all but guaranteed.
Tonight’s performance began with “Put You in a Song”, one of four selections Urban performed from his 2010 release, Get Closer. Throughout the night, the 43-year old performer did an excellent job of blending in hits culled from the last five albums, into a very exciting set list. Keith even included six songs from his record breaking 2002 release, Golden Road. The one thing you notice about this artist from the get-go was his genuine desire to please every single person in the audience. As Urban would prove time and time again, the entire arena was his stage. He had no problem sharing the spotlight with the unsuspecting as well.
When the Aussie transplant labeled this tour The Closer You Get, he meant every single word of it. By the night’s end, five complete strangers would be “urbanized” with memories to last a lifetime. One surprised fan was invited on stage for a simple hug. Toward the end of a three-song run from the 2009 Defying Gravity album, the singer pulled three people from the audience to help him with “Kiss a Girl.” The onstage Urban Idol sing-off was a great deal of fun. The singing was actually quite good, especially Carrie Bass, who received a rousing round of applause for their effort..
Urban even made his way to the back of the arena, during a medley or rock songs, to present a special gift to another random stranger. Pulling out a Sharpie, he signed his guitar and then just walked over and handed it to a completely shocked woman. Urban smiled as tears flowed from the dumbfounded girl’s face. For the folks in the nose bleed sections of the arena, Nicole Kidman’s husband did his best to raise his level of playing to them. He spent one song in a revolving chair some 20 feet off the ground. Later, he just said to heck with it and performed from the steps of a section in the upper level.
There is one thing about Urban that can’t be denied. He is an amazing guitar player. He won’t ever be mentioned in the same breath as Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton or Jeff Beck, but any rock band would be proud to have him as their lead guitarist. This guy earned a lot of kudos with his exceptional playing abilities, and his run through snippets of AC/DC, Tom Petty and U2 went over exceptionally well.
Outside of showcasing his tremendous musicianship on guitar, Urban also proved to be a very capable singer. He moved the crowd with tunes like Somebody Like You”, “Sweet Thing”, “You’ll Think of Me” and “Making Memories of Us”. He performed an enjoyable cover of Paul McCartney’s “Silly Love Songs” and a clever version of Little Big Town’s hit, “Boondocks”, with members of the aforementioned band performing behind him on a video screen.
To prove he’s hip to what’s going on in Dallas, for an encore, Urban came out wearing a personalized Mavericks jersey. He promptly led the cheering crowd in a sing-a-long to Queen’s “We Are the Champions”. As confetti and streamers rained down on the excited crowd, he launched into his No. 1 hit “Tonight I Want to Cry.” The last highlight of the night (and it was hard to pick just one), had to be when opener Jake Owen came out to perform John Mellencamp’s “Jack & Diane” with the headliner. The audience sang loud and proud throughout. Urban ended the festivities with his other top hit from Be Here, “Better Life”.
Even if you’re not a country music fan, you couldn’t help but be impressed by the artist’s ‘urbanization’ of tonight’s adoring crowd. There’s an art to entertaining thousands of people night after night, especially when people are shelling out hard earned cash to see you play in a down economy. Keith Urban made sure everyone got there money’s worth - and then some. The closer you get indeed.