If you’ve got money to see a Keith Urban concert, do it! This man puts on quite a show. I went to see him at the Xfinity Center in Mansfield, Massachusetts (former Great Woods for us old timers) July 26, 2014. Urban played for two-plus hours. He went on just before 9pm and played up until just after 11pm. At concerts, you often hear artists say they’ll play all night long; mostly that’s just to get a cheer from the crowd, with Urban, that statement was just about true. So much so that toward the end I actually found myself thinking, ‘I hope he doesn’t play too much longer ‘cuz I’d like to go home soon.’
During his set, Urban played mostly up-beat tunes with a slower one thrown in here or there. “Love Somebody Like You” and “Long Hot Summer” all part of the set list. During one of the small handful of times that Urban played something slower, he got the crowd revved up with the standard “Are you ready to have a good time?”; “Are you ready to party?”, which he followed up with “Good, ‘cuz we’re going to play a slow one” before launching into “Making Memories of Us.”
Three-quarters of the way through the concert, Urban moved from the main stage to a stage set up on the lawn seats. He got up and rocked through another four songs; giving the cheap-seat crowd a thrill I’m sure they won’t soon forget. One lucky gal even got herself an extra treat. When Urban finished playing he signed his guitar and handed it off to her. She’s sure going to have a story to tell her children and grandchildren.
For those who leave the concert before the encore, you sure did miss out. Urban came back out after the ‘good night’ break to play for another 20 minutes. The last five of them showing the crowd just what he can do on the guitar. A point-of-view camera was mounted on the stem of guitar he was playing with the image projected on the back wall. We all got a good close-up look at Urban’s finger work as it danced up and down and around the strings. Would-be guitarists and guitar lovers would enjoy this concert for this aspect alone. And it wasn’t the only time that we got to see Urban’s guitar magic. All through the concert, the cameras moved in on his picking. Making the guitar as much of a star as the man himself.
Brett Eldredge and Jerrod Niemann were Urban’s openers. I was a little bit disappointed with this at first as I was expecting Dustin Lynch. I was looking forward to seeing that mega-watt smile of that good looking cowboy beaming out at me. Eldredge and Niemann filled the bill pretty nicely though. I have to admit that there is something attractive about that squared-off, Flintstone-like jaw which Niemann has and Eldredge sure don’t hurt your either much either.
Both men show some of the new direction that country is taking. Eldredge is taking country toward a more brassy, jazzy sound and Niemann is taking country in a more of a funky, funky direction if you go by his single “Donkey.” This one he played at the concert complete with a donkey-headed mascot on guitar. Two of Jerrod Niemann’s other songs, “Buzz Back Girl” and “Drink to that All Night”, from his High Noon album, show the funky, fun, swinging music that this fine looking gentleman is infusing country with.
Eldredge was a little nervous and stiff when he first came out. (It’s always cute to see newbie folks getting stage fright when they first step out in front of a large crowd.) But he loosened up some as he moved through his tunes. Eldredge had lost himself so in the music that he was much more comfortable in front of the crowd.
All three men performed songs from someone else, which was a nice touch to see the range of these guys. Eldrege sang a song from Dean Martin. It was a perfect pick for Eldredge. Martin is a big voice to fill and Eldredge sure did it justice. Niemann sang Johnny Cash; proving that he can do justice to a country standard for those who criticize his movement away from the Nashville Sound. Plus, Niemann’s natural rasp is a complimentary match to Cash’s.
Eldredge and Niemann joined urban to cover Tim McGraw’s “Something Like That” (Does this mean that McGraw is becoming a classic?) This was about the middle section of Urban’s show. A refreshing change from having your opening acts come out towards the end.
While all three men were great in their respective sets it was Urban who went above and beyond with his. Eldredge and Niemann both played the standard amount of time that I’d expect for openers, giving me my money’s worth, but Urban’s long set gave me my money’s worth and then some.