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Review: Keith Urban brings country hits, classic rock covers to Tampa's St. Pete Times Forum




Call it Southern Hemisphere hospitality.

Amiable Australian Keith Urban made good on the promise of his latest album’s title, Get Closer, with a Saturday night performance that found him splitting time between the main stage and three smaller ones that brought him directly into the St. Pete Times Forum crowd.

For You Look Good in My Shirt, Urban performed from a Plaza Level aisle, autographing his guitar and handing it to a shocked fan before heading back to the front of the arena.

During Kiss a Girl, Urban brought five fans on stage for a chance to sing the song’s chorus.

Of course the show wasn’t all glad-handing. Urban has amassed enough country hits to easily fill his two hour-plus set. Even if he hadn’t, many in the crowd would have been satisfied to hear more guitar.

Urban paid the bills as a session guitarist before becoming a star, and Saturday’s set was filled with solos ranging from lyrical to full-bore rocking.

Urban’s rich, mournful playing, reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour, highlighted the moody ‘Til Summer Comes Around.

On You Gonna Fly, Urban let loose with a lead that suggested Stevie Ray Vaughan meets Rick Nielsen. The song then segued into Little Big Town’s Boondocks, with Urban and his band playing as the song’s video rolled behind them.

But it was on Stupid Boy that Urban soared highest, using his vintage Gibson Les Paul gold-top to reveal the pain at the song’s heart.

Urban prefaced Making Memories of Us with a verse of WingsSilly Love Songs, and paid tribute to Waylon Jennings, showing a clip of the country outlaw performing Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way prior to Who Wouldn’t Want to Be Me.

Bassist Jerry Flowers, multi-instrumentalist Danny Rader and guitarist Brian Nutter all got a turn at the mike to sing U2’s With or Without You, Tom Petty’s American Girl and AC/DC’s It’s a Long Way to the Top, respectively. All were excellent, as was drummer Chris McHugh, who powered the songs with rock-style dynamics.

Urban’s got legions of female fans, as evidenced by the largest and most vocal portion of the Forum crowd. But he never overplays the sex symbol angle, preferring to wow the crowd with well-crafted songs, great playing and old- fashioned showmanship.

Vero Beach native Jake Owen opened with a well received set in which his broken-heart songs were overshadowed by several party-hearty odes to summer days and Saturday nights.

The Forum did not make attendance figures available.

-- Curtis Ross, tbt*. Photo (not from Friday's show): Getty Images.

[Last modified: Sunday, June 19, 2011 11:09am]


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