Review: KEITH URBAN - Escape Together Tour - WIN Wollongong 14.12.09

I must confess, apart from his celebrity status and the fact that he is married to Nicole Kidman, I didn’t really know much about Keith Urban. I hadn’t taken the opportunity to listen to his music, despite my husband owning one of his CDs.

With the news of his impending Australian tour, I decided that as part of his Christmas gift, I would take my husband to a show. We had no idea what to expect.

The setting was the Wollongong Entertainment Centre. The stage had two ramps, one on either side, a catwalk in the middle and elevated platforms on each end so that Keith would be closer to his fans. Our seats were in the 6th row but only 2 rows from the left ramp and just a few seats left of the catwalk. I thought to myself, I had purchased well. No matter where he stood, we were going to be close.

Unfortunately, due to the early start and our inability to find a parking spot near the venue, we missed Bob Evans, the supporting act.

The crowd was an all-ages mix from the very old, to the very young and I mean from 80 down to about 2 years of age! I was expecting an arena full of squealing teenage fans but, for many, it was a family affair. Some had already left their seats and secured their spots around the stage, including a mother and her daughter who were at one point seated behind us. The daughter had brought along a bunch of long stemmed roses to give to her idol.

The anticipation was building and the atmosphere in the venue was charged with excitement. The curtain came down and the Keith Urban “Escape Together” show had begun. Escape Together is exactly what we did.

From the opening number, to the final encore, the energy grew and there was never a dull moment or long, drawn out guitar solo. We were witnessing showmanship at its highest level.
Urban just had a way of connecting with the audience, from walking through the crowd and along the ramps, to playing on a small stage for the audience at the rear of the venue, we all felt a part of the performance rather than just being mere spectators.

He told us it was our night and we could do as we pleased. We were encouraged to dance and stand on chairs. Immediately, the girls in front stood on their seats but just as quickly, security tried to intervene, however, Urban instructed them to ease off. It wasn’t long before I was standing on my seat – something I hadn’t done since my clubbing days in the 80s!

The audience adored him and he seemed genuinely surprised by their reaction, noting that this crowd was one of THE best in a long time and that he could play all night. He often punched his heart with his fist in a gesture of gratitude.

After 3 or 4 songs, I thought to myself “I feel alive!” I had been won over and, just like the girls near me, it wasn’t long before I also felt like chanting “I love you Keith!”. What had come over me? I didn’t know the words or the music but I felt like I’d connected with the singer.

I’ve been to many concerts and I’ve seen crowds go off in the past but there just seemed to be a kind of magic in the air. Grandmas and grandkids, teens and their parents, they were all singing along and enjoying themselves. Images of their happy faces splashed across the screens behind the stage.

Urban took the roses off the young girl I mentioned previously and placed them in his mouth whilst playing his guitar. He ran to either side of the stage, stood on the elevated platforms and urged the audience to join in, guitar picks were being thrown everywhere. Later in the evening, he went up into the crowd in the 2nd elevation to sing a song. A small boy, about 3 years old, who was holding a toy guitar, was placed at his feet and they played together as excited fans eagerly snapped away on their cameras.

His brand of country music had a rock edge to it that I really enjoyed. His vocals were strong, his guitar playing impressive and the stage set and lighting helped make it a memorable evening. His band were a great bunch of musicians whose talents were showcased during their mini solos. I was also impressed that, despite living in the US, Urban hasn’t lost his Australian accent.

I must admit I felt embarrassed that I didn’t know the words to his songs. Urban met my gaze several times but I quickly pretended to fiddle with my camera. Had I known the words, I too probably would’ve been reduced to a blubbering mess, overcome by the moment, like some in the crowd. You could see he got a kick out of watching the crowd enjoy themselves.

I was also impressed by his array of guitars, especially what appeared to be an LED one that lit up with coloured lights. Some people change outfits, Keith Urban changes guitars and there’s nothing wrong with that!

Before we knew it, it was time for the encore and confetti seemed to complete the party mode we were in. Urban’s road crew ran across the stage, throwing more guitar picks, as he thanked them and his band for their efforts. The star then walked across the stage shaking hands and throwing his wrist bands to the audience, again thanking everyone for being there. The crowd couldn’t get enough.

This can’t be the end! The time just passed so quickly and as I stood down from my chair, dusting confetti off my hair and clothes, I knew I had witnessed something special. There was no need for swearing, theatrics or pyrotechnics. Urban’s amazing talent and showmanship are all that’s required to deliver a performance many will be raving about for quite some time including me … Keith Urban’s newest fan!

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