Friday, June 26th
Milwaukee Summerfest - an 11 day festival beginning June 25th through July 5th. 11 days, 11 stages, 700 bands.
Very Special Guest: Counting Crows
Review from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Musical odd couple hit it off
For some music fans, the match of country heartthrob Keith Urban with the jangly folk-rock of Counting Crows might seem like a blend akin to chicken-flavored ice cream.
The Urban/Counting Crows marriage was the great booking experiment of Summerfest '09. As it turned out Friday night at the Marcus Amphitheater, even seriously smitten young ladies have a taste for folk-rock as well as hunky Aussie guitar heroes.
To these ears, Counting Crows has always worked better on disc than in person. A lot of that is traceable to Crows' frontman Adam Duritz, whose utter lack of humor and almost painfully earnest manner undercuts the jangly pleasure of the Crows' songbook.
Having said that, Friday was the best Crows show this observer has seen. Although he still sports the hair extensions, Duritz has lost a lot of weight, and the leaner Duritz was a more energetic and engaging Duritz.
There's nothing wrong with the Crows catalog, and Friday's opening set was an appealing mix of hits such as "Mr. Jones" with less-familiar material like "Washington Square" and "Richard Manuel Is Dead" (the latter of which Duritz messed up and took a second swipe at).
There were also covers from Gram Parsons and Bob Dylan. And they picked one of Dylan's wittiest tunes - "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere," which helped compensate for the dour Mr. Duritz.
As for Urban, like Brad Paisley, he is part Music City hottie and part down-home guitar god. He's also very good at charming a crowd.
Friday, he leaped into the audience and made his way to the top of the front sections, where he did a substantial mini-set of tunes in the wheelchair section.
For about 20 minutes, the folks in the cheaper seats had the good seats, which is never a bad move for one's populist country credentials.
Although Counting Crows was warmly received, once Urban came out there was no doubt who the crowd was there to see. The odd thing about Urban is that his best songs are often his ballads.
"Hit the Ground Running" was a clever launch pad, and "You Look Good in My Shirt" made a rousing encore, but the ballads like "Raining on Sunday" and "Stupid Boy" revealed Urban at his most nuanced, both as singer and player.