Black Music Matters Festival

Keith Urban steps up

Tsongas Arena, Lowell, Mass., Oct. 26, 2004

By Maxine McPherson

LOWELL, MA - Keith Urban finally stepped up. He finally headlined his own tour. After years of opening for acts like Brooks and Dunn and Kenny Chesney, Urban brought his own show to town.

In an era when country stars seem to be going for stage productions with enormous blow up dolls, multiple slide screens and bigger is better, Urban is keeping it simple. Other than a few lights, the backdrop monkey symbol he's used for the last few years and a "Hope" sign that lights at the end of the concert - the stage is bare except for the speakers, instruments and musicians.

The show opened with newcomer Katrina Elam. She did a good job of warming up the audience with her vocals and yodels, but it was clear the crowd wanted Urban.

Opening with his latest hit, "Days Go By," Urban had the audience up and moving as he raced through a number of songs from his new CD "Be Here," hits from his first CD and the double-platinum "Golden Road."

The set included "Where the Blacktop Ends" and "I Wanna Be Your Everything" from his debut album, "Who Wouldn't Want to Be Me," "Jeans On," "You'll Think of Me scribed as a "trailer trash song," called "Homespun Love."

The focus was on songs from the new CD. The group rocked with "Better Life" and "You're My Better Half."

However, sitting alone with an acoustic guitar in a soft white light singing the romantic "Making Memories of Us," you have to wonder why he even needs the band. He brought the screaming crowd to a silence during the encore, when he again appeared alone, this time with a keyboard, and did the moving "Tonight I Wanna Cry." Not to leave the audience feeling low, he did finally end the two -our show with "These Are the Days."

The arena wasn't a sell-out like the Chesney concerts he's opened for, but that will come. It was time for Keith Urban to move up - and he did it his own way, he made it about the music.