Posted by Mary Colurso December 02, 2007 6:40 PM
Categories: Music, Reviews, Scene
Keith Urban played guitar vignettes from rock anthems -- including "Smoke on the Water," "Walk This Way" and "Life in the Fast Lane" -- Saturday night at the BJCC Arena.Review rating: Five out of five stars
Let's get a few things straight about Keith Urban.
Tabloid celebrity hasn't done him any favors, but his recent stint in rehab, his marriage to actress Nicole Kidman and his image as a NashVegas lightweight were eclipsed Saturday night at the BJCC Arena.
Urban's 9:35 p.m. concert was an electrifying experience -- surprisingly so, we must admit -- and skillful enough to rival other music superstars.
First of all, Urban's two-hour show was much more rock than country, heavy on guitar bravado and solos from the extremely adept frontman.
Urban led his five-member band with clear-eyed assurance, played to the crowd without seeming like an egotist and displayed genuine joy in the music.
The well-balanced set list included greatest hits and new material, including "Days Go By," "Where the Blacktop Ends," "You're My Better Half," "Tonight I Wanna Cry," "Making Memories of Us," "Somebody Like You," "Raining on Sunday," "Shine," "I Told You So" and "Faster Car."
Performed live, these songs had a dynamic quality -- a vibrant force and exciting authenticity -- that's missing from the radio versions.
Of course, Urban's scruffy good looks caused much screaming and sign waving from the audience's female contingent. Fan fever ran high and shrill in the arena, which was more than two-thirds full.
But Urban, 40, proved that talent is his most valuable commodity.
From the moment he walked on stage, greeting the crowd with a solo vocal, it was obvious that Urban needed no prerecorded help. His microphone was on -- no bogus lip-syncing or dishonest use of "guide vocals" -- and it stayed hot throughout the long, satisfying set.
Technically, Urban's team gave the audience a superior production, from the huge, crystal-clear images projected on a screen behind the stage to the amazingly good sound quality.
Although simple, the stage set worked extremely well; it included an extension that stretched more than halfway through the arena and ended in a circular mini-stage.
This catwalk provided ticketholders in the back with a much better view and allowed Urban to interact with the audience in an up-close and personal way. He and the band performed several songs there, in the round, as a camera on an overhead track captured every subtle move.
Final verdict: Urban has grown into an astonishingly polished and confident performer, capable of headlining an arena show and turning skeptics into believers.
Supermarket rags, you've done him wrong.