Fans 'get closer' at Keith Urban's show
BY JENNIFER CHANCELLOR World Scene Writer
Friday, August 19, 2011
8/19/11 at 5:46 AM
Countryman Keith Urban can't get enough - or give enough - love.
His "Get Closer" tour brought fans into Urban's realm at the BOK Center on Thursday night. Women swooned, children cheered, and men raised their beers. Heck, women raised their frozen margaritas.
The experience was submersive and at times nearly overwhelming.
Before the concert began, fans danced with guitars in front of a green screen and lip-synched to Urban's hit "Put You in a Song." They filed up to the merchandise tables for tees and picked out bags of cotton candy from vendors walking the arena aisles. Then the real show started.
Lighting rigs swirled and raced across roller-coaster like tracks as they flashed and strobed. As he ran out on stage, Urban's first word was a holler: "Tulsaaaaa!" The audience sprung to its feet.
The performer mingled with his fans - at one point, he even put himself at crowd level, performing on a mini stage, giving the closest fans a 360-degree view as he strummed away on his guitar.
He also grabbed a hand-held spotlight and swung it wide, into the rafters, so he could personally welcome each fan to the show. He stopped abruptly when a sign caught his eye.
It read, "My better half is in Afghanistan. I need a hug!" Urban obliged, welcoming her onstage for a bear embrace.
He's a natural. Urban's laid-back, this-is-easy-as-pie demeanor makes his extended set seem effortless, and, hey, his guitar practically plays itself.
That level of ease takes a lot of preparation, and it's a testament to his skill and ability to completely inhabit every moment, every note.
Urban rolled through hits including "Jeans On," "I Told You So," "You Gonna Fly," "Georgia Woods," "Making Memories of Us," "Days Go By," "Somebody Like You," "I'm In," "Long Hot Summer," "Stupid Boy" and "Sweet Thing."
A multistories-tall circular projection screen showed bandmates in near high-definition quality, beads of sweat rolling down their foreheads and staining their shirt collars.
While noodling isn't what he's famous for, his live show elevates his guitar to front-and-center stage. The scruffy-faced guitar slinger pushes his skills to the hilt and could easily chest-bump with greats such as Vince Gill and Dickey Betts.
Four vocal mics were placed across the arena-size stage. Throughout the show, Urban would move, then pause and taunt, "Who has the best seats now?"
The crowd would react with cheers and raised phone cameras. Seemingly everyone angled for a shot.
"Told You So" had the entire arena on its feet, singing in unison as Urban urged it on, hands raised over his head.
He also played bits and pieces from an array of covers, from Paul McCartney's "Silly Love Songs" to Little Big Town's "Boondocks" and close to a half-dozen others during his two-plus-hour set.
This tour's backing band lineup included Danny Radar on slide guitar, Chris McHugh on drums and percussion, Brian Nutter on acoustic and electric guitar, accordion, mandolin, banjo and keyboard, and Jerry Flowers on bass, piano and acoustic guitar.
Jake Owens opened the night's show with a rousing and straightforward set of contemporary pop-rock country tunes, including "Yee Haw," "Anywhere With You," "The One That Got Away" and "Wide Awake."
Jennifer Chancellor 918-581-8346
Keith Urban performs Thursday night at the BOK Center in Tulsa. The crooner entertained his audience with a variety of his own hit songs and classic covers. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World
Keith Urban shows off his guitar skills on stage Thursday night at the BOK Center in Tulsa. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World