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Urban legend a woman can believe in

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It's easy to see why Keith Urban is a superstar.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 27/09/2009 (4871 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

It’s easy to see why Keith Urban is a superstar.

He writes his own songs, can play guitar like a rock star, is extremely fan-friendly, seems like a genuinely nice guy and has the kind of looks that make girls go wild.

Basically, he’s the complete package.

DAN HARPER / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Australian country star Keith Urban entertains fans with a lively show at MTS Centre Saturday night.

It’s that package that drew a sold-out crowd of 12,500 fans, heavily weighted on the well-dressed female demographic, to the MTS Centre Saturday night for the first of two shows — he performs again at the same venue tonight (tickets were still available yesterday).

The Australian country music heartthrob kicked things off on a high-energy note with the aptly titled Hit the Ground Running from his latest album, Defying Gravity, which had the crowd on its feet and roaring. He ensured everyone stayed up and singing along with Days Go By, off his 2004 album Be Here, followed by the crowd favourite, Stupid Boy, a song about a guy who crushes his lover’s dreams, only realizing what a screw-up he is when the girl runs off.

Yes, the 41-year-old isn’t afraid to admit he’s made some mistakes, which only makes him more endearing to his fan base. He may be one of country’s most popular artists, and he’s married to actress Nicole Kidman, but he is human after all.

He’s also probably one of the best guitarists in country music, as he proved over and over last night during numerous solos, putting the rock in his country-rock sound. He spent several years in Nashville working as a session player before going solo, so he knows his way around a six-string.

His country side is represented by the slight twang in his voice and his five-piece band, who made their presence felt and threw in the occasional backing banjo and mandolin, but never got in the way of the frontman, who alternated his time on the main stage and a small extension that ran into the first dozen rows.

"Good evening, Winnipeg. It’s nice to be back. Is everybody feeling good tonight?" he asked, to screams of approval. "I have a feeling it’s gonna be a late night, so you might as well just call the babysitter and tell her you’re going to be a little late."

If anyone was worried about paying the babysitter overtime for the two-hour show, scheduled to end at 11 p.m., no one showed it or looked like they would leave early, especially as there was a chance Urban might just walk into the crowd at any time, like he did a third of the way into the show when he worked his way through the audience to get to a satellite stage at the back of the arena during You’re My Better Half, giving the fans in the north end of the rink a better view than even the seven video screens behind him and his band offered.

He set hearts aflutter with the love song Once In a Lifetime before sitting on a stool with an acoustic guitar and dedicating the Rodney Crowell-penned ballad Making Memories of Us to his wife while the crowd swooned and cameras flashed. He kept things mellow with another love song, Only You Can Love Me This Way.

He made his way back through the crowd, slapping hands along the way, and got back on the main stage for Who Wouldn’t Want to Be Me, a summertime anthem about driving around with a girl, that had the whole crowd singing along. It also gave Urban another chance to rip off some more guitar solos.

This guy knows how to work a crowd. He even took a break halfway through the evening to sign tennis balls and hit them into the stands before introducing each member of his band by having them sing a bit of a song while showing baby pictures of each of them.

Up-and-coming Nashville group Lady Antebellum opened the show with a 50-minute set that had just as much in common with pop-rock as country.

The trio — vocalists Charlie Kelley and Hillary Scott and guitarist-vocalist Dave Haywood — expanded to a seven-piece for their live set, mostly made up of material off their 2008 self-titled debut album, along with a couple of covers. They showcased their perfect three-part harmonies during a well-paced mix of upbeat numbers and slower songs, moving from single Looking for a Good Time (which included some of AC/DC’s You Shook Me All Night Long) and Love’s Lookin’ Good on You to Home is Where the Heart Is. They even got the crowd singing along to their No. 1 hit, I Run to You.

 

rob.williams@freepress.mb.ca

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