Thursday, Oct. 8, 2009
Madison Square Garden
Keith Urban with special guests Sugarland
I can’t explain how excited I was to attend this arena concert featuring two Country music mega-stars. I saw Keith Urban about two years ago in the same venue, Madison Square Garden, when he toured with Carrie Underwood and after that show I knew I had to witness his brilliance again. I don’t know if it was because I’ve already seen Urban, but my excitement was matched for the Country duo of Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush, a.k.a. Sugarland.
I arrived at the concert about twelve minutes late. I was hoping the show didn’t start on time, but unfortunately it did, which meant I missed the first couple songs of their set that included “Love,” “Settlin'” and “It Happens.” That didn’t matter though because I was in store for an additional 60 minutes of pure Sugarland fun!
The raw power of Nettles’ voice blew me away during their set. She is definitely one of a kind and without a doubt one of the stand-out frontwomen in the past decade. Whether she’s singing with complete emotion during “Joey,” strumming the guitar with the rest of the band during “Genevieve,” or simply dancing around the stage and having a great time during “All I Want to Do,” she was simply captivating.
The show-stopping moment during their set was when they played three consecutive songs that was memorable in their own individual way. First, they performed “Everyday America” which got the whole audience dancing and singing along. The contagious smile from Nettles was having an effect with the crowd, especially during the breakdown of the song when she covered snippets of a few popular songs such as “Hot in Herre” by Nelly and “Rock with You” by Michael Jackson. Afterwards, the lights went out and the mood went from super-energetic to super-mellow as Nettles and Bush stood in the middle of the stage with the spotlights shining only on them, and went right into their Grammy-winning ballad, “Stay.” And just when it seemed Sugarland was going to keep the mood at a slow pace, they exploded into “Who Says You Can’t Go Home,” made famous by the duet vocals of Bon Jovi and Jennifer Nettles.
Sugarland was exceptional and there’s no reason why they couldn’t headline their own tour right now. They proved from their sensational live performance that they’re definitely one of Country’s biggest and best acts.
With the black curtain covering the entire stage, Keith Urban and his band set up in about 20 minutes until the house lights went off and the introduction of “Hit the Ground Runnin'” played over and over again. It was a great way to start the setlist. The beating drums and rock guitar riff had the crowd up on their feet in no time. The stage had a huge screen behind the band which was broken up into five columns. Off to the sides of the stage were two additional screens. Needless to say, there wasn’t a bad seat in the house and nothing would go unnoticed from all the camera angles being displayed.
Urban played hit after hit in the beginning of his set and after he concluded “You’re My Better Half” he made his way through the crowd to a small solo stage in the middle of the arena and yelled, “Who’s got the good seats now?” He then played a solo version of “Once in a Lifetime” and stayed there to dedicate “Making Memories of Us” and “Only You Can Love Me This Way” to his wife, Nicole Kidman, who was in attendance.
Then it was time for Urban to return to his band as they performed the energetic “Who Wouldn’t Want to Be Me.” The adrenaline rush didn’t last long because the tone was settled down once again when Urban played “Til Summer Comes Around” off of his new album Defying Gravity. Then, he asked if the crowd was ready for something special and explained that since his wife was here tonight, he was going to play a song he doesn’t normally play. The song was “Thank You” and featured Urban on the keyboards. It was arguably the most touching moment of the night.
He was able to get the audience clapping and singing along again with Country-rock songs “Kiss a Girl” and “I Told You So.” But the moment that stood out the most, in my opinion, were the next two songs that were performed. Beginning with a short montage of random people singing and playing the upcoming hate-ballad, Urban sat himself down on a stool with his acoustic guitar and played “You’ll Think of Me.” Equivalent to Sugarland’s show-stopper “Stay,” this is Urban’s most powerful song on his resume and he didn’t hold any emotion back. Immediately after, the recognizable guitar riff started to blare over the loudspeakers and “You Look Good in My Shirt” was performed. Urban sported a guitar that blinked a colorful light show as he trekked up and down the aisles and even had a fun audience sing-a-long to the track.
Urban’s final song of his pre-encore set list was “Somebody Like You.” Whe he came back on stage for his two-song encore, he played a heart-felt, acoustic version of “Tonight I Wanna Cry” and concluded his spectacular two-hour set with his anthem, “Better Life.”
I must say, this was an absolutely terrific show and Keith Urban keeps proving why he’s one of the top entertainers year in and year out.