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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

Keith Urban provides taut musicianship and heart in Gwinnett

keith_urbanKeith Urban performs again Friday night at Gwinnett Arena. Tickets are still available for $25-$55. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., opener Jake Owen takes the stage around 7:30 p.m. Info: www.ticketmaster.com.

 So you don’t like “new” country, huh?

 Then you likely haven’t witnessed Keith Urban live, because he’ll make you a believer.

Urban is about as old-school country as female cohorts Taylor Swift and Faith Hill, who deal with far more grief whenever that inevitable argument arises.

 But who cares about the label when the product is delivered so well?

 Urban is an impressive package – a sizzling musician, steady vocalist and a prototype for your basic hunk (tight jeans, tight black shirt, floppy hair and a killer smile).

 But while his physical attributes – coupled with a genuine nice-guy attitude – are window dressing that might help sell a few more albums, Urban’s shelf life never would have extended to a dozen number one singles and a half-dozen mega-selling albums since his 1999 breakthrough if he were merely a pretty face with biceps.

 Well, actually, in this Kardashian-infatuated world, he probably would still be a star.

 But Urban is, first and foremost, a top-notch musician who happens to radiate star quality.

 At Thursday’s near-sellout at Gwinnett Arena (he plays there again Friday), Urban and his airtight four-piece band plowed through more than two hours of soaring country-tinged rockers and pensive ballads.

 From the opening notes of “Put You in a Song,” this crowd was primed to sing along, and Urban’s exhilarating live setup only nudged their adrenaline higher.

 The expansive stage featured a large, circular video screen broadcasting Urban’s stubble to the highest seats while above, strings of lights glided along roller coaster-like tracks.

 The frenetic lighting perfectly complemented Urban’s furious soloing on “Days Go By” and “Stupid Boy,” one of his many songs that demonstrate manliness and introspection can co-exist quite well.

 Frequently swapping his black and white Fender for an acoustic guitar, Urban repeatedly proved a nimble guitarist in the vein of Joe Perry or Richie Sambora. And while he doesn’t possess the most flexible pipes, he makes up for any vocal shortcomings with a ton of passion.

 Urban isn’t the type of artist to phone in a performance. He engages with his fans by telling them to leave their “cares and worries in a whole other dimension” during the show, but also by taking the time to read handmade signs, inviting a couple onstage to snap a photo and plucking a trio of fans from the audience to share the mic during a rollicking version of “Kiss a Girl.”

 They’re the type of joyful, unfiltered moments that should be part of every live experience.

 He’s also talked a lot about getting physically close to the audience on this tour, and between a series of ramps that allowed him to perform a couple of songs on each end of the stage and a small platform halfway into the floor seats, he stayed true to his promise.

 After taking an acoustic stroll through Paul McCartney’s “Silly Love Songs,” which segued into his own tender, “Making Memories of Us,” accented by a lovely pedal steel guitar, Urban bopped into the crowd for “I’m In” and “Jeans On.”

 Sweat flew with every toss of Urban’s damp locks, but the fans closest to him were more than happy to act as a landing strip and clamored even closer when he leaned into “You’ll Think of Me,” still one of the best creations in his ever-expanding archives.

 Though many of Urban’s songs share the same anthemic blueprint, save for a banjo touch on “You Gonna Fly” or some mandolin on “Days Go By,” they never sound rote, thanks to his innate sense of melody.

 So yes, Urban’s music might instigate another round of “is he or isn’t he country,” but whatever you want to call it, make sure to give the guy credit. He is a rock star in the truest sense.

 Check out the AJC’s recent interview with Keith: http://www.accessatlanta.com/atlanta-music/keith-urban-gets-close-1058955.html

Follow me on Twitter @ajclifestyle

21 comments Add your comment

DGAD

August 5th, 2011
10:09 am

“Tonight I Feel Like Crying”????? Johnny Cash would kick your *** and make you cry, pretty boy!!!

LuvuKeith

August 5th, 2011
10:32 am

Amazing show last night! gave 150%! Men and women alike were enjoying the show. He is a gifted musician and it showed last night! No matter if he is country or rock the man and his band can play and put on a show! Cant wait for what tonights show has in store! Thanks guys! AWESOME!

katrobin

August 5th, 2011
10:46 am

What a great performer! Loved the show last night, and Keith gained a million more cool points in my book! He is a top notch live performer, and gave the crowd his all. He was so personable and accessible to fans during the performance. The small round stage in the middle of the floor seats was incredible. Such a great show! Thanks Keith!!!

What a SHOW

August 5th, 2011
11:18 am

Last night’s concert was the best show I’ve seen in my 26 years on this earth. My family and I had F1 seats almost on the stage itself. We didn’t sit down the entire show. I was not a huge fan of his before this envent, but now I’m trying to find tickets for tonight’s concert as well. It was amazing to say the least. My favorite part was Keith interacting with the fans, bringing the guy and girl’s on stage to sing was really cool. And him giving away his guitar to the gentleman in the back was a surprising gesture. It was a night I’ll always remember.

MountainDawg

August 5th, 2011
11:22 am

This mess is NOT real country & western! It’s plastic, manufactured “pop” from (sold out) “Trashville”. Urban is a good musician yes…but a POP musician. Ya’ll want to hear some REAL C&W…get’cha some Hank Williams, Buck Owens, Kitty Wells, Waylon, DAC & Bob Wills. For “new” (real) country…try some Hank 3 & Wayne “The Train” Hanc0ck!

BigDawg

August 5th, 2011
11:39 am

MtnDawg, so what? It’s awesome music and perfectly performed. KU puts on a first class professional concert that gives his fans their monies worth. Also, he treats his fans like they were in his living room having a coldie.

BigDawg

August 5th, 2011
11:39 am

I loved the show last night. Consumate performer with all the tools.

Rhonda Hammond

August 5th, 2011
11:40 am

DGAD–you’re just jealous. Keith Urban is the real deal. He is a talented song writer, vocalist and he can flat play a guitar among many other instruments. And he just happens to be completely gorgeous while performing or just standing there. MountainDawg…if you knew anything about him you would know that he has loved country music his entire life and move to Nashville to be right in the middle of it. I don’t think he professes to be “Country & Western”. But he IS a country artist and thank goodness he is!! The country world is better for him. He writes soulful, wonderful lyrics. So you closed minded folks, I feel sorry for you cause you are missin’ out on some goooood stuff!

Rhonda Hammond

August 5th, 2011
11:41 am

OH, and I want to add that I have been to many shows in several cities and they just get better & better! Thank you Keith!

KC Fan

August 5th, 2011
11:57 am

Fact of the matter is Mountain Dawg and DGAD, that C&W music my parents and grandparents listened to just doesn’t sell anymore. You either change with the times, or you end up playing ‘honky tonks’ in west Texas. You may still like the old C&W music, and nothing wrong with that, but today’s country is where it is at. You gotta have some sting in that guitar, and you have to make the people really feel your music. The days of albums and 8-tracks are gone. Give this new country a try, I think you will really like it.

Kim

August 5th, 2011
12:55 pm

I have tickets to tonight’s show and I can’t wait to get there!! A friend went to last night’s show and she told me it was the best concert she’s ever been to. I wasn’t planning on taking a camera but after seeing her pictures I may change my mind!

hunny3

August 5th, 2011
1:27 pm

@mountaindawg…maybe we don’t like “country and western” music. Who even calls it that anymore? Outdated people like you.
Maybe this music Keith plays is what the rest of us like. Maybe he is taking country in a different direction…a good one. I listen to mostly country music but do not care for the twangy kind you must be referring to.
I bet there are many like me. If we prefer our country rockin and you like it old-style, then so be it. I have never heard Keith say he is traditional country music. (Although, I have seen him do that too and he is amazing.)
I get so sick of this discussion about whether he is “real country”…who cares? He makes great music and I am sure he entertains better than any of the so-called country purists.

MountainDawg

August 5th, 2011
2:25 pm

Ya’ll carpetbaggers can keep that “pop” country mess. You talk about “changing times”, well they sure as heck aren’t changing for the better (music or society wise). Urban may well be a great entertainer, etc…but all I’m saying is NOT real country music.

MountainDawg

August 5th, 2011
2:28 pm

P.S. – You can call me a throw-back, redneck, hillbilly, fossil or whatever…that bothers me not. ;)

DGAD

August 5th, 2011
5:12 pm

KC Fan….I could care less if it sells. I just know what I like and KU isn’t it. You can call it country all you want to but that doesn’t make it so. Maybe he can get Bieber Boy to open for him and Rhonda would be in Heaven!!!

lizzie

August 5th, 2011
7:19 pm

DGAD – Gee, I’m so glad you are the living end in regard to country music. A certain fellow from down here in Alabama wrote a little ditty about crying, and that man was the great Hank, that would be Senior, not Junior. The song, in case you didn’t know, was “I’m So Lonesome I could Cry”. So you like honky tonk music; fine, but don’t throw it around like you are an expert on Country and everyone else doesn’t know what he/she are talking about. I probably know ‘old’ music more than you (I remember when Johnny was a pretty boy himself in the 50’s). I happen to feel Urban is unique and honest in his songs. If anything, today there’s a group of young kids who are afraid to do that; primarily because of people like you who are so loud and opinionated. Just prefer the music you like and just shut up about it – save it for the bar rooms.

ffinga4u

August 5th, 2011
10:51 pm

Ver nice Lizzie, well put!

Anastasia

August 6th, 2011
1:55 am

I appreciate a good couple hours of laying around and listening to Keith Urban and the band play. The first half of my year was dreadful but his music kept me uplifted. For 8-9 months I was wishing for this salvation concert to kick up my boots; and the wait for the concert was perfect. I even giggled when Keith tried to read allowed the signs people made. “Apple bankrupt” that’s a classy line for I cannot see small print. :)

Claudette

August 6th, 2011
10:46 am

Great show Keith. Went both nights and had a blast.

gloria

August 6th, 2011
6:30 pm

I saw Keith Thursday night and he blew the roof off the Gwinnett Arena! He was out of this world fantastic! From the first note to the confetti spewing, I was on my feet the whole time and sang to every song. He played for over 2 hrs and I still didn’t want it to end! MountainDawg, aren’t all those artist you mentioned DEAD??? How much you miss being so closed minded. I don’t care if some do not call Keith country! I don’t care what they call him as long as he still tours and makes great music. That concert last night will stay in my memory for a long time. THANK YOU KEITH!!

Alice

August 8th, 2011
6:40 am

My only problem with this review is the comment about Keith’s voice being limited in any way. That anyone could feel like that amazes me. No, he doesn’t sound like the dozens who are almost interchangeable, but HE DOES possess a gorgeous, unique, powerful voice. It is simply beautiul and unique to just him, You know Keith whe you hear him!! Then there is also the fact that he is an awesome, amazing guitarist, prolific, creative and smart song writer, musician of many other instruments and THE BEST ENTERTAINER IN ANY GENRE!! Country is so fortunate to have him and Keith loves the Country music genre and all its history, but he is not a copy of anyone else past or present!