Keith Urban Takes The Hard Rock By Storm

By Debbie Brautman | Photos: Jay Skolnick

On October 21, Keith Urban, along with his outstanding band, explosively rocked The Hard Rock Live in Hollywood, Florida, making heavy metal bands like Metallica seem stale and lame. Who would expect a so-called country artist to be so hard-rocking with a blazing four-guitar attack and tremendously high energy? This Australian guitar shredder can play his wicked guitar with the best of the rock guitarists and has moves like no one else. Not only is he a spectacular guitarist, but his vocals are spot-on for his songs and he has seemingly endless energy. No downtime as he fuses his country and pop leanings into a fresh and exciting amalgamation of powerful rock gems that when played live practically explode off the stage. His legions of die-hard fans already know what a fantastic live artist he is, but many new fans are quickly learning. Count me in as one of them who was totally blown away. The energy on stage was astounding and his performance must be seen and heard live to be believed. Watching a video does not capture that special live gift that he possesses. He has that WOW factor and is so genuine. He connects with his fans in the way that Taylor Swift does with hers. He tells the audience, “I want to thank each and every single one of you for coming and I hope that tonight you won’t think, even once, about your outside life.” He just wanted to be a wonderful escape for his fans. And that he was.

His charming charisma is most evident as he interacts so beautifully with the audience. He retrieves a giant light to shine on the upper levels of the audience because he wants to acknowledge them. He asked if anyone was having a birthday because he was having one the following week. There was a young boy in a Nirvana t-shirt with a poster that said it was his first concert and his 10th birthday, so Keith pulled him onstage, and commented that his first concert was Johnny Cash when he was five years old. He hugs the boy and takes a selfie with him. The audience happily soaks it all up. Gifted, talented, personable, and positively stunning with perfect hair, perfect body, perfect face, cool clothes, and cool tattoos. He was about to turn 56 years old and fans were gasping at what a “Hottie” he is. That is quite an understatement. They don’t get much hotter, but beauty aside, his beauty comes from the heart and his musical performance was the real highlight here.

At 8:15 pm, Keith came out with a spotlight shining on him and did an acapella intro to his hit song “Wild Hearts.” It escalated into a full-out rocker and was such a smoking start. This great song began his two hours of musical ecstasy. Keith played fabulous versions of his standards, “Days Go By,” “Somewhere In My Car,” “Blue Ain’t Your Color,” and “Wasted Time.” Highlights were “Somebody Like You,” “Worry ‘Bout Nothin,’” “Cop Car,” and “Where The Blacktop Ends.” On “Raining On Sunday,” Keith flashes that super cute smile that melts the audience. That winning smile flashed through most of the concert. He performed a cover of Ed Sheeran’s “Kiss A Girl/Bad Habits” with much more enthusiasm than Ed Sheeran can muster. “Brown Eyes Baby” is a newer song, from 2022, and it did just as well as his older songs.

While performing “One Too Many,” his 2020 collaboration with American singer Pink, a giant projection of her singing is shown on the video screens. Carrie Underwood also flashes on the screen for their duet on their 2016 song, “The Fighter.” This superb band takes a pop song and makes it rock. Every step he takes, and every move he makes is mesmerizing. He did an emotional acoustic performance of “You’ll Think Of Me,” on a small pedestal in the middle of the pit surrounded by adoring fans. Then he signed his guitar and handed it to an astonished fan. That connection with his fans is so strong and undeniable.

His excellent band was firing on all cylinders, and they all looked like they were having a fabulous time. They hadn’t played in six weeks, so they were particularly excited to be back performing. Nathan Barlowe plays a mean guitar and the “Phantom” electronic sampling machine that he invented. He has a great camaraderie with Keith, as does bassist Jerry Flowers. Flowers joined Keith’s band in 2005 as a bassist and musical director but has a history with Keith going back to 1997 when they formed the band, The Ranch, together. Terence F. Clark, from Memphis, on drums was just awesome as was Pete Kuzma on keyboards.

Confetti blasts into the air after a blistering version of “Wasted Time” and at 10:06 pm, Keith returns for the encore of “Raise ‘Em Up.” He thanks everyone and anyone who traveled to the show and tells of tons of new music that will be coming out soon in 2024. By 10:15, he is hugging fans, taking selfies and signing everything that was shoved at him including photos, posters, sneakers, hats, baseballs, jackets and even arms. A fan gives him roses and he stays signing things for minutes more. This special artist makes his fans feel special. It was a very uplifting evening with everyone feeling the love. He creates music from his giant heart and he delivers one of the most memorable shows that you will ever see. His legions of fans grow with each of these magnificent performances. Best concert the Hard Rock Live has seen this year!

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