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Keith Urban Delivers Love Letter to L.A. Fans: Concert Review

Keith Urban Hollywood Bowl - P 2013
Chris Godley

The Bottom Line

The returning "Idol" judge makes his Hollywood Bowl debut with a feel-good Friday night celebration.

Venue

Hollywood Bowl
Los Angeles
(Friday, Sept. 27)

"American Idol" hopefuls would do well to look to the returning judge for a role model.

It's easy to see why American Idol is sticking with Keith Urban.

The Aussie-bred country star might not be the most colorful or controversial judge the show has seen, but he is exactly the type of artist that contenders should strive to be.

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Urban brought his Light the Fuse tour to Los Angeles on Friday night, along with openers Dustin Lynch and Little Big Town, in his Hollywood Bowl debut. And even while all eyes were on Urban, he made the audience feel like they were the stars of the show.

In what could go down as one of the most low-key stage entrances in history, one could be forgiven for not noticing when Urban made his first appearance. With the house lights still up, the 45-year-old sauntered on stage as beats from the intermission continued to blare from the speakers. One by one, he was joined by his all-male band and together they began strumming on banjos and guitars. Then came the unmistakable sounds of "Love Somebody," and suddenly Urban's face was blown up onto five, side-by-side jumbotrons behind the stage. To state the obvious: he is alarmingly good-looking on a jumbotron.

Wearing a dark gray, deep V-neck T-shirt with black jeans, Urban powered through "Sweet Thing," "I Told You So" and "Cop Car" to a mostly seated, but still enthralled, audience. (It wasn't until "Good Thing" that the entire crowd found themselves on their feet.)

"We are playing for the first time ever at the legendary Hollywood Bowl," he mused, in what would become a long but worthwhile break from the music. "And it feels damn good, too."

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Almost as if to affirm his arrival on the storied stage, Urban grabbed the spotlights and shined them back on the crowd to get a better view. Then, out came the binoculars. "That's a fine-looking crowd out there," he said, as he began reading hand-made signs all the way in the back of the open-air theater.

And there were plenty of diehards on hand, including one audience member up front whose sign declared that Friday, Sept. 27, was her birthday.

"It's your birthday? Come up here, baby!" Urban called, taking the young lady by the hand and helping her on the stage. As it turned out, she was a newlywed and had used Urban's lyrics in her wedding vows just weeks prior.

Engaging her new husband in the conversation (which turned out to be a full-on interview) from the front row, Urban handed over the mic. His response: "I was Mr. Right Now until she met you."

It wouldn't be the last time Urban got up close and personal with his fans that night. About midway through his two-hour set, Urban made his way towards a platform in the back of the venue and didn't flinch when fans hugged, grabbed and stroked his luscious locks along the way.
 
Urban graciously shared the stage with his opening acts, inviting Little Big Town to join in on "You Gonna Fly" and later, Lynch could hardly contain his excitement during "Kiss the Girl."

Urban's wife of seven years, Nicole Kidman, was nowhere to be seen, but her presence could be felt on "Without You" and, oddly enough, on his guitar riffs. Thanks to a guitar-cam attached to the top of his instrument, Urban's left hand -- and that silver wedding band on his finger -- were in plain view on the jumbotrons. It served as a pleasant reminder of the rock star's alter ego: family man, and a daddy to two baby girls. (Towards the end of the show, Urban would sign said guitar and take it right off his back, handing it over to a fan in the audience.)

Among the VIPs spotted in the crowd was Idol boss Simon Fuller, who should have left the venue with renewed confidence in the superstar. Jennifer Lopez may be the show's top prize, but contestants would do well to look to Urban as a role model. With seven studio albums under his belt -- his most recent debuting atop the Billboard 200 and Top Country charts -- the mild-mannered Urban achieves commercial success amid a seemingly normal home life. As a performer, it's impossible not to fall in love with his humor, humility and most importantly, his talent.

Set List:

Long Hot Summer
Sweet Thing
Told You So
Cop Car
Even the Stars Fall For You
You Gonna Fly With Me (feat. Little Big Town)
Stupid Boy
Without You
Good Thing
Kiss the Girl (feat. Dustin Lynch)
Medley of Covers
Days Go By
Once In a Lifetime
Better Life
Boys 'Round Here (Blake Shelton Cover)
You'll Think of Me
Little Bit of Everything
Who Wouldn't Wanna Be Me?
Somebody Like You

Encore:

But For The Grace of God
You Look Good in My Shirt

Twitter: @SophieSchillaci

Chris Godley