Concert review: From Keith Urban, escapist joy for a mostly female crowd at Target Center By Ross Raihala Pop Music Critic Updated: 10/16/2011 12:08:37 AM CDT
Kieth Urban plays the Target Center Saturday Oct. 15 in Downtown Minneapolis. (Pioneer Press: Joe Michaud-Scorza)
As Keith Urban was about to take the Target Center stage Saturday night, the Beatles' classic "A Day in the Life" blared over the sound system, with the lights dimming in time to the lyric "I'd love to turn you on."
That might as well be the hunky New Zealand native's mission statement. It's not about drugs (he underwent a successful trip through rehab shortly after his 2006 marriage to Nicole Kidman) and it's not really a sexual thing either (he's more of a good-natured flirt, like a tight-panted UPS driver). Urban, 43, seems most concerned about extracting pure escapist joy from his largely female audience by writing instantly graspable pop/rock songs and delivering them with infectious energy and a huge smile.
As such, Urban filled the show with fan-friendly touches at every turn, starting with the mammoth circular screen - much like the one Pink Floyd used to use for playing stadiums - that broadcast his mug with such clarity, you could count the beads of sweat on his forehead.
At one point, the house lights came up so Urban could read the signs out in the crowd. He beckoned the giddy owners of one that read "Husbands hunting pheasants, wives hunting photo with you" up on stage for a snapshot, with his band breaking into an impromptu cover of Def Leppard's "Photograph" and the near-capacity crowd of more than 13,000 cheering in the background. Later, he pulled a Bono-inspired move and used a portable spotlight to illuminate fans in the upper deck. For "Kiss Advertisement a Girl," he even invited a trio of wannabe stars from the crowd to sing the chorus karaoke-style.
The most thrilling moment, though, was when he did his now-traditional leap into the crowd, slapping hands and grinning his way to a second stage not much larger than a coffee table. Just in case not everyone could see, he sat for the third number, "You'll Think of Me," and the platform rotated slowly like one of those old rooftop hotel restaurants, giving the entire house a glimpse of their hero.
Musically speaking, Urban has never made "sounding country" his top priority, particularly in concert. Instead, he draws inspiration from big radio hits of the 1970s and '80s, writing songs that arrive with a whiff of familiarity that's more warmly nostalgic than coldly calculating.
The show-opening "Put You in a Song" felt like an old Bon Jovi rocker, the chugging bass of "I Told You So" brought to mind early Duran Duran and the Grammy-winning 2006 single "Stupid Boy" rolled on by like a less-stoned Tom Petty. The barn-burner "Long Hot Summer" is one of several songs he co-wrote with an actual pop-music relic, Richard Marx, with Urban able to bring out the best in the fluffy-haired schlock king.
Saturday's show marked the end of a four-month tour, so Urban was looser and even more amiable than usual. Really, the only flaw was that it didn't take place across the river, in Urban's usual Twin Cities home, the Xcel Energy Center. Next time, dude.
-------------------- Indianapolis - 11/08/07 Lexington - 04/26/08 Indianapolis - 09/13/08 Cincinnati - 06/05/09 Louisville - 08/22/09 Cincinnati - 08/11/11 Posts: 472 | From: N. KY | Registered: Jan 2006
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