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Perhaps not country, but Urban stars

The Covelli Centre, Youngstown, Ohio, November 13, 2016

Reviewed by Michael Rampa

After Keith Urban scorched a version of "Days Go By," a man in his mid-50s in a Led Zeppelin T shirt said to his rhinestone clad lady friend, "This is not country music, that guy's a rock star."

Indeed, the chart topping Aussie further contributes to country's multiple personality disorder, but in a category other than pop. Urban happens to be one of the most capable guitarists across all genres with an axe arsenal any gearhead would approve of. He played them all in a show that featured a huge stage, glitzy production and his ability to somehow keep finding another gear just when you thought you had heard his best solo of the night.

Urban began with a rocking instrumental on banjo that morphed deftly into the first shred on "Long Hot Summer." The first part of the set featured half of the songs from "Ripcord" the best of which was "Boy Gets A Truck." It was the highlight because he broke out the 25th Anniversary Paul Reed Smith guitar for the long solo.

The 6,000-seat venue throbbed as bassist Jerry Flowers and drummer Chris McHugh laid down a funky backbeat. "I see you brought a special moon out for us tonight, special things can happen under a super moon." he quipped to a frenzied audience. Indeed, after he closed the set two hours later with a cover of The Police classic "So Lonely" it felt like the crowd had been mainlining adrenaline for the duration.

The show featured a few duets. Opener Maren Morris returned to the stage to perform "We Were Us," a rocking rap-tinged sing-along. Carrie Underwood appeared via scary realistic hologram for "The Fighter" off the new album. Middle act Brett Eldredge joined Urban on a B stage for the deep cut "Somebody Like You." Urban is well known for his charisma and fan interaction; he reinforced it when brought a nine-year-old girl onstage after spotting her sign that read "Will you adopt me?" They performed a 45-second snippet of "Somewhere In My Car" to the delight of the sold-out crowd.

Eldredge felt more like a co-headliner than an opener. The crowd was wildly responsive during an energetic and generous 45-minute set that was bookended by the rocking "Lose My Mind" and the ballad "Mean To Me."

Morris came out with a no frills set of breezy pop from her chart topping debut, "Hero." She showcased "80s Mercedes," and "Drunk Girls Don't Cry" before of course culminating with the gospel anthem, "My Church."

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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