Published Friday July 10, 2009
Urban had audience at his beck and call
By Kevin Coffey
WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER
Somebody might want to pat down Keith Urban's tight plaid shirt and make sure he's not carrying a deed in his pockets.
Why? Because he owned Qwest Center Omaha.
At his beck and call Thursday night, the audience — heavy on young ladies — screamed when the Aussie country singer took the stage in fitted black jeans, his hair in his eyes. An “I-can't-hear-you” hand to his ear brought cheers. And pointing the microphone to the crowd caused fans to sing whole verses.
The arena — packed to the rafters — was full of Urban-ites, who showed that country fans aren't all boots, cowboy hats and honky tonk. Most were female, decked out in sundresses and T-shirts, not plaid or belt buckles.
“It's very nice to be back,” Urban said. “It's your night. If you want to, stand on the chairs. Sing. Dance. Have a good time tonight!”
Members of the audience took his advice, dancing in the aisles and on top of their seats, much to the chagrin of Qwest Center crowd control. They also sang whole sections of songs, nearly drowning out Urban on several, including “Tonight I Wanna Cry.”
Though he's the kind of performer who makes you want to work out more and get a better haircut, Urban showed he's not just a pretty boy.
The guy can jam.
Urban played lead guitar in his six-piece band, using at least eight different guitars, including a Fender Telecaster that had colored, flashing lights in its body.
The country star brought the show to every corner of the arena, making sure more than the people in the front row got good pictures of him on their digital cameras.
In the middle of “You're My Better Half,” Urban walked into the crowd, making his way to the back of the arena. He smiled, laughed and played a guitar solo while members of the crowd mobbed him, taking pictures and mussing his hair. He set up on a small stage in the opposite end of the arena, playing “Once In a Lifetime,” “Making Memories of Us” and “Only You Can Love Me This Way.”
Later in the show, after returning to the main stage, Urban ventured into the crowd once again. This time, he played “You're In My Shirt” on a tiny stage in the arena's lower bowl.
At times, Urban may have seemed far away from some parts of the audience. But enormous video screens made the acoustic, emotional songs like “You'll Think of Me” seem intimate, like the performer was playing in a living room.
At the same time, its images of Urban's guitar shredding and big smile upped the intensity on the big numbers, including “Who Wouldn't Wanna Be Me.”
Urban made the night for one little girl who carried her own acoustic guitar when he beckoned her on stage. After strumming with him and singing on “Once In a Lifetime,” Urban hugged her and signed her instrument.
“What a magic night tonight,” Urban said. “I love this town.”
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