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Urban's guitar ultimately proves too much of a good thing

Kia Forum, Inglewood, Cal., September 10, 2022

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

Keith Urban sure loves playing his electric guitar. Maybe a little too much. He added electric lead solos to nearly every song he played live, and by doing so, nearly wore his audience out. Guitar was center stage for this two-hour concert at the expense of many other equally worthy elements. Other current country and country-leaning guitar slingers do a much better job in getting the elemental balance right. Chris Stapleton, no slouch on guitar, is better known for his soulful singing; Jason Isbell, also an expressive player, puts his great song lyrics at the top, while Brad Paisley mixes fine string-bending with fun humor and tangible sincerity.

Not so for Urban, though, who – although he has some fine songs and is a good singer – let his six-string hog all the sonic attention, at the expense of everything else. This led to an unsatisfying and borderline annoying concert.

Urban played a mean (both musically and attitudinally) version of "You'll Think of Me" during a rare acoustic guitar-accompanied moment, while his old school soul inspired "Blue Ain't Your Color" created an especially memorable moment. Other highlights included the propulsive "Days Go By" as well as the sensitive – and according to Urban, much requested – "Brown Eyes Baby." Urban's backing rock band also performed admirably. Urban shined on guitar throughout, but it was just way too much of a good thing.

Tyler Hubbard, in one of his first post-Florida Georgia Line solo appearances, preceded Urban with a set of mostly new songs. He, of course, sang a few FGL hits ("Cruise" and "Meant to Be"), but also gave us his "5 Foot 9" hit, which was about as close as anything performed this night came to true country music. It is a sad thing when an ex-FGL guy is the most country performer on any bill.

Although a little less chatty than she was at Stagecoach, Ingrid Andress still talks way too much while performing. She mostly sits at the piano when she performs and mainly sang songs she had a hand in writing during her opening set. She had video help from Sam Hunt while singing her hit "Wishful Drinking," but was at her best when doing the family-related "More Hearts Than Mine."

While billed as a country show, there wasn't a steel guitar or fiddle heard the entire night. There were also a some conspicuously empty seats throughout the house. Could this mean country radio's recent swing towards more country-sounding playlists is affecting concert attendance? It was, after all, a Saturday night. Whatever the case, it was a night where the guitar – and not the bottle – let us down.

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