Arizona is experiencing a shortage of major concert tours this year. So far the biggest shows have been April’s Country Thunder and June’s Tim McGraw performance. Luckily a writer from Arkansas by the name of Scott Smith was able to attend and write about superstar Keith Urban’s recent concert in Tulsa, Oklahoma. If you’d like to submit a concert review for posting on ATC, please feel free to email me. In the mean time I hope you enjoy Scott’s review.
A whole lot of country and rock flavored singer-guitarist Keith Urban’s performance Aug. 18 inside the BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla.
The Australian-born hit maker pleased long-time fans and apparently won many new believers during a concert that ran far past the two-hour mark. “Days Go By,” “I Told You So” and “Only You Can Love Me This Way” came early in the energized set, with “Raining on Sunday” morphing from its initial meditative state into gospel-esque crescendos.
Dressed in a snug brown T-shirt, faded bluejeans and well-worn work boots, Urban surprised some viewers when he played an abbreviated, one-man version of Paul McCartney and Wings’ “Silly Love Songs,” “You Gonna Fly,” “Jeans On,” “Georgia Woods” and “Sweet Thing” also won waves of applause and cheers from the all-ages crowd.
As strong as his voice was at the Tulsa gig, Urban’s busy, guitar-loving fingers were even more eye-catching. Seemingly channeling The Eagles’ Joe Walsh, Urban changed guitars frequently. Grinning through most of the concert, Urban ripped inspired, impressive solos from Telecasters, Les Pauls and one guitar whose body comprised of color-changing lights.
A musician who is capable of playing guitar in almost any other band — Urban’s guitar style could mesh seamlessly with hard rockers Aerosmith, The Rolling Stones and even The Who — Urban often did opt for the less-is-more approach during the instrumental breaks. He hit single guitar notes during breaks instead of always shredding up high on the guitar neck, letting those tasteful notes ring throughout the venue.
Remarkably, Urban’s band included only four musicians, yet most of the members played double and triple duty on pedal-steel guitar, six-string banjo, B3 Hammond organ and keyboards. Bassist Jerry Flowers sang the chorus on a shimmering take of U2’s “With or Without You,” and former Tait guitar player Brian Nutter gave a wonderfully shrieking vocal tribute to AC/DC’s Bon Scott via a faithful reading of “It’s A Long Way to the Top (If You Want to Rock and Roll).”.
Needless to say, though, it was Urban who was the central figure. An artist hailed by fans and critics alike — even non-fans admit to Urban’s greatness on guitar without a moment’s hesitation — Urban side-stepped any fake, high-energy hokum airs in Tulsa. He read aloud every cardboard sign fans held up, wished a happy birthday to those celebrating the start of a new year, and pulled a young woman up on stage after reading her sign that said, “My Better Half is in Afghanistan.”
Urban also took over a minute to thank the crowd for spending money on tickets “in these tough economic times when people have lost jobs.” He later pulled three fans onto the stage to sing with the band. Winning the most cheers was a tiny elementary school girl, whose dance moves and playful sassyness made her seem like a miniature Shania Twain.
“Wow,” Urban said after watching her sing and dance. “Where are you from?”
“I’m from Joplin, Missouri,” the girl responded into the microphone.
Two seconds later, a deafening roar of cheers and whistles flooded the BOK to encourage the girl and mark the public’s on-going support for Joplin tornado victims. Urban then knelt down beside the girl and kissed her cheek, which caused the child to shake with glee and jump up in down in place.
“I don’t know what you guys have in Joplin, Missouri, but it must be some magical stuff,” Urban said. “Joplin and Tulsa are amazing.”