Keith Urban At Staples


And I got the one I love beside me
My troubles behind me
I’m alive and I’m free
Who wouldn’t wanna be me

The goal of the concert is to take the attendee, the listener, from his workaday world into the STRATOSPHERE! To scoop him up with a guitar and take him AWAY!

I sat on the phone with Gary Borman last week as he told me country programmers had informed him the Keith Urban show in Phoenix was the best they’d ever seen. And with my newfound interest in country music, did I want to go? He insisted he didn’t want me to write about it, that this wasn’t his motivation, he just wanted me to EXPERIENCE IT!

But if you were there, how could you NOT talk about it? How could you NOT write about it?

Usually the comp seats are in the loge, just to the side of the stage, with a little height. But when we showed our tickets to the usher, he said we were on the floor, in the EIGHTH ROW! How can you sit on the floor for $79.50? To be up close and personal costs in excess of a hundred bucks, right? Not at a country show.

We got there early. I wanted to see the Wreckers. I’m a big fan of the Wreckers. It was astounding to see how far Michelle Branch has come since I saw her at the Roxy. She’s self-assured on stage, she works it. But when she and Jessica Harp switched sides of the stage, constantly, it was a bit cheesy. Still, I liked their final number, their hit "Leave The Pieces", when they walked the ramp down into the audience.

Yes, bisecting the floor, from stage almost to the far distant luxury boxes, was a ramp, like on an old TV show.

The people-watching during the break was utterly astounding. If you were MALE!

All you guys out there going to the metal shows, even seeing the classic rockers, YOU’RE IN THE WRONG PLACE! You’ve got to go to the country gig, you’ve got to go see Keith Urban. Felice pegged the ratio at TEN TO ONE!

Short ones, tall ones, big ones, small ones. All in their jeans and cowboy boots, their tits hanging out of their clingy tops. It was a veritable GIRLS GONE WILD! How did they all get the MEMO?

Nary a tattoo, nary a piercing. The attendees were positively wholesome. And at the appointed hour, when the hi-def screen showed a beating heart and Keith Urban emerged on a riser, strumming his electric guitar, you should have heard the SCREAMS! You could COUNT THE ORGASMS!

And you can include me in the tally. There was a shot of adrenaline, an excitement, all too often absent. And all there was was this one guy, smiling, playing his axe, sans dance steps, sans backing tracks. But then the backing band appeared. A drummer, of course, but FOUR MORE GUITARISTS!

Are you getting it, this was a ROCK SHOW! Hell, the deejay, given props by Keith early in the show, spun "You Shook Me All Night Long" and "You Get What You Give" just before the lights went down.

The band’s standing on stage, lined up like a freight train. Like a hipster football front line. They were solid, playing their stringed instruments, impenetrable, just sending this music out to US!

And it wasn’t a matter of overpowering sound, actually, the volume was LESS than the Wreckers. But there was this incredible feeling of being in it TOGETHER! Going on a journey with the band.

And the hi-def screen is mesmerizing. There’s a floating camera, shooting from in front, overhead, from below. We’re only feet away, but it’s like we’re watching a 70mm movie at the same time. You didn’t have TIME to think about your troubles!

And the instrumentation is so wholesome. So perfect. It’s all those instruments we used to hear on rock records. This is Crosby, Stills & Nash or Fleetwood Mac, but it’s BRAND NEW!

And then, the band fell away, and Keith Urban walked down the ramp into the middle of the audience and started strumming his guitar, one leg back, like he meant it.

And during this quiet, solo acoustic number, I started hearing something else… It was EVERY SINGLE CHICK SINGING ALONG!

Pray that it’s raining on Sunday
Stormin’ like crazy
We’ll hide under the covers all afternoon
Baby whatever comes Monday
Can take care of itself
‘Cause we got better things that we can do
When it’s raining on Sunday

You can FEEL the audience swaying. Looking to the sky, singing along with this chorus. With the great change in the middle, that resonated so, even though I’D NEVER HEARD IT BEFORE!

If you want to get laid, if you want to know what women want, listen to "Raining On Sunday". It’s like Katherine Heigl in "Knocked Up". She doesn’t need an Adonis, she just needs someone to LISTEN TO HER! To UNDERSTAND HER! These are the moments that count, when you’re together, only the two of you, not when you’re out in public, in your finery, trying to demonstrate to everybody how hip you are.

Oh, they played "Stupid Boy". But I enjoyed "I Told You So" even more.

By this time the band had set up on stools at the far end of the auditorium, at the end of the ramp. Keith picked up the poster that said the holder would let him kiss his wife if Keith would let him kiss his, and then, after laughing, Keith ran into the audience and kissed the guy’s significant other. And upon returning to his stool, Keith leaned into the mic and said GOOD LUCK EXECUTING YOUR PART OF THE DEAL!

Nicole Kidman was not there. But during the break of "I Told You So" a high school drumline appeared on stage, to bang out the part. Girls hitting basses, kids playing the tom-toms NEXT TO THEM! Felice thought it was a bit cheesy, I dug it. After all, I remember the USC Marching Band on "Tusk".

And almost two hours in, after the band had left the stage, and Keith returned for an encore, before he put his fingers on the piano keys, he said he wanted to try an experiment. He wanted everybody to take out their cell phone. That we were going to do THE WAVE!

Yup, twice around the building, with our lit handsets. I haven’t seen something so cool since we did the wave at Bruce Springsteen’s sold out Coliseum gig twenty years ago.


Take your records, take your freedom
Take your memories I don’t need ’em
Take your space and take your reasons
But you’ll think of me

I think of my rock and roll days. When music was all I cared about. When I lived to go to the show. When I saved the ticket and plastered it to my wall. But sometime in the last decade, it left me. They said I was too old, I didn’t understand the kids’ music, it wasn’t made for me. Watching Steve Jobs became more interesting than listening to the new records. Which were so stylized, which lacked authenticity. But unlike the singer of this song, my girl came back. She looked a little bit different, but I recognized her, she was still the same. She wasn’t wearing a fancy outfit, she dressed casually, just like me. And she wasn’t dancing. And she was playing a guitar. Many guitars.

There was no attitude. The music spoke for itself. We were all enthralled by, in service to, the music. I pinched myself, I said this couldn’t be true, I was too sophisticated, too many years had gone by, I couldn’t feel this way again.

But I did.

Whatever was happening outside Staples Center, it suddenly no longer seemed to matter. I was with twenty thousand friends. On a ship hovering above all the trouble, in a space that only music can deliver, where you just feel good.

I know you remember this feeling.

Maybe you’ve been posing, staying you still feel it, as you sit backstage while the band plays.

Maybe you’ve found your niche. Maybe you’ve never lost it.

But for the rest of us. Who not only can’t understand the RIAA suing people, but the major labels, terrestrial radio and the media at large… It’s astounding that someone has picked up the torch and is carrying it.

One Response to Keith Urban At Staples »»


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  1. Pingback by I should get into New Country « The Trickle-Down | 2007/06/18 at 20:41:19

    […] some reason, he’s been talking about a lot about New Country lately.  After reading his hilarious description of a Keith Urban concert in LA, I al […]

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  1. Pingback by I should get into New Country « The Trickle-Down | 2007/06/18 at 20:41:19

    […] some reason, he’s been talking about a lot about New Country lately.  After reading his hilarious description of a Keith Urban concert in LA, I al […]

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