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Concert Reviews:
Keith Urban pleases at the Palace, up close and personal
 

By GARY GRAFF
for Journal Register Newspapers

» See more SOUND CHECK

AUBURN HILLS -- "Are you ready for a good time?" may be the most rhetorical question anyone can ask at a Keith Urban concert. Including the man himself on Saturday night (July 23) at the Palace.

Most concert crowds come to have a good time, of course, but there's a different energy to the Urban audience. The female fans flock for what opening act Jake Owens called the New Zealand-born, Australian-raised artist's "good facial structure -- and other physical attributes. The men, meanwhile, fall in for Urban's guitar playing, which is on par with most anyone in the six-string hero ranks, rock or country, and also for the fact that, well, the women like him so much.

And then there's a battery of exceptional songs form his nine studio albums, including 10 that have hit No. 1 on the country charts. The guy simply comes well-stocked and ready to please.

And that's just what Urban and his four piece band did before 10,000-plus at the Palace, playing a two-hour and 15-minute, 22-song rockin' kind of country show driven by the music but accented by inventive staging -- which has also been one of Urban's consistent strengths. This year's production featured a rounded stage whose front pitched towards the floor, allowing the performers to walk right into the audience (though Urban didn't take advantage of this particular feature). There were also mini-stages at either side and in the middle of the Palace floor, the latter where Urban performed a mini-set of "I'm In, " "Jeans On" and "You're My Better Half." During "You Look Good in My Shirt" he ventured back into the crowd and into the grandstand, where, after playing the song, he signed and gave his guitar to a teenage girl standing nearby.

And for "Kiss a Girl" Urban brought three fans on stage for a kind of Urban Idol competition, singing parts of the song with varying degrees of talent but certainly great energy.

Urban and company tapped his latest album, "Get Closer," for four songs, including the chart-topping ballad "Without You" and the sublime "Georgia Woods." But most of the set focused on the tried-and-true favorites such as "Somebody Like You," "Days Go By" and "Only You Can Love Me This Way." He appended Little Big Town's "Boondocks" onto his own "You're Gonna Fly" and introduced "Making Memories of Us" with the first verse of Paul McCartney & Wings' "Silly Love Songs" (appropriate enough with Sir Paul performing the next night at Comerica Park), "Tonight I Wanna Cry" with a verse and chorus of Bob Seger's "Against the Wind" and "Better Life" with a snippet of Kiss' "Detroit Rock City."

And the band introductions during "Who Wouldn't Wanna Be Me" allowed Urban's group members to sing bits of U2's "With or Without You," Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers' "American Girl" and AC/DC's "It's a Long Way to the Top..."

If the show started to feel a bit long towards the end, with perhaps one too many call-and-response schticks, his crowd was willing to go with it. A little TOO much Urban, it seems, is not necessarily a bad thing.



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