Keith Urban kicked off the Spokane stop of his “ripCORD World Tour” by strutting up to the microphone, flashing a wide smile and strumming a banjo.
Australian superstar Urban and his band played to a sold-out crowd for nearly two hours at Northern Quest Resort & Casino in Airway Heights on Friday night.
At the beginning of the night, it was difficult to hear Urban’s voice but I soon realized this was the result of a technical issue with his microphone. It was later rectified.
One of the first songs in Urban’s set list was “Long Hot Summer,” which paints a picture of a carefree night by the river with a special someone. But the song’s sweet undercurrent didn’t bleed into Urban’s posture. He moved, played and sang with boundless energy and his signature suave demeanor. If someone told me this was the only performance Urban would give all summer, I would have believed it.
Speaking of suave: Urban will turn 50 in a few months, but he remains a heartthrob with his toned arms, tattoos and flowing mane. The audience was packed with enthusiastic fans from every generation, including Gen Xers, millennials and Gen Zers.
Urban’s most impressive feat was his quick guitar shredding, more commonly featured in rock performances. He played many of his songs’ more intense guitar solos, something few country performers or lead singers in general accomplish with ease.
The set list featured an impressive variety of songs, including country classics centered on enjoying a day by the creek, sensitive ballads like “Blue Ain’t Your Color,” and upbeat love songs like “The Fighter.” While I lost myself in the music, I often forgot whether I was attending a country, rock or pop concert.
When Urban played “Break on Me,” a ballad about life’s trying times, he showcased his impressive ability to immediately transition from high-energy songs to an emotional portrayal of heartbreak.
One of his best performances of the night was “Somewhere in My Car.” Though the song documents what could and should have been in a relationship, Urban performed it as a joyful celebration of times past rather than a downer.
It was clear that Urban loves his fans as much as he loves his music. He invited an attendee who recently turned 16 onto the stage, led a chorus of voices in singing “Happy Birthday,” signed her poster and wrapped her in a hug.
Throughout the show, he sang from different corners of the stage to provide an immersive experience for all in attendance. Later he performed from a platform located amidst the crowd.
“You guys turned into front row like that. That’s the way it should be at every concert!” Urban exclaimed before signing his guitar and handing it over to a fan.
Urban also offered his band members a moment to shine. Two of his guitarists sang part of “Somebody Like You,” and their gruff and powerful voices were more than worthy of a lead singer spot in a band.
Before the end of the night, Urban accentuated his versatility. He played a medley with covers of hit rock song “Jack and Diane” by John Mellencamp and “No Woman, No Cry” by Bob Marley.
One of Urban’s final performances was the most memorable. He stood alone onstage as he played and sang a stirring acoustic version of the tender love song “Making Memories of Us.” He demonstrated stellar vocal technique: an open and easy sound with healthy vibrato.
In the song, Urban desires to steal his love’s attention “like a bad outlaw.” And he did steal the attention of hundreds who loved him until the final note.
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