June 25, 2010

Keith Urban & Nicole Kidman Updates 06/26/10

Keith Urban says his music helped him gauge the darkness coming back into his life


Country music megastar Keith Urban says he's more comfortable in his skin after a rough stretch earlier in his career. He's the biggest name at this year's Greeley Stampede, where he'll take the stage Saturday night.

Whenever Keith Urban needs to do a little soul searching, he puts on his latest record.

The lyrics, even more than what he believes he's feeling, speak the truth.

“It seems like the songs really recognize where I really am,” Urban said in a phone interview. “I may say where I am, but then I have to wonder why I keep traveling down a certain road.”

There were warning signs that his addiction to drugs, something he battled many years ago at the start of his career, were resurfacing, and many of those were in lyrics he wrote before he checked into the Betty Ford Center in late 2006.

“I didn't sense that there were major problems going in my own internal self,” he said, “but these songs started to reflect it faster than me.”

So it was a relief, he said, to listen to his latest record, “Defying Gravity,” released early last year. The album was by far the most uplifting of his career, and one of his most successful, with it being his first No. 1 and garnering him award nominations from the Country Music Awards for album and entertainer of the year. Urban is the headliner of Saturday's Greeley Stampede concert and considered the biggest act of this year's two-week event.

One of the songs, “Thank You,” reflected on the dark past but also talked about his deep love for his wife, actress Nicole Kidman. It was one of many that addressed his new, happy place with the world. Urban had a baby daughter, Sunday Rose, with Kidman in the summer of 2008, and since then, life's been pretty good.

Urban thought he was feeling that, and the record confirmed it.

“It was such a relief to hear that jubilation on this record,” Urban said.

Perhaps that's why he looks at the recent flood in Nashville, Tenn., which submerged many of his guitars underwater and halted the recording of his upcoming album, as more of a bump than a tragedy. It definitely was heartbreaking. He may even keep a few of the guitars that were damaged beyond repair because he's too attached to them to let them go. But the flood did not dredge up the dark feelings it might have in the past.

“I just have more of a willingness these days to maintain that balance,” he said, “and life is a much more enjoyable experience. I take the flood as a sign to find new things and write new songs with new guitars. If you're a guitarist, at the end of the day, you can make music with any guitar.”

He's not sure how his latest record will pan out. It's too early to tell, he said. He's only a third of the way into it, but he has a good feeling about it.

“I can't quite define what it is,” Urban said. “The songs have a different weight this time around.”

But he's fairly certain the songs will remain joyful and uplifting. The attitude that helped him kick his addiction remains strong.

“It always comes down to the word surrender,” he said. “It's not rocket science. The question I had to ask was was I willing to surrender. There's a big difference thinking you should quit and the willingness to actually surrender. I was.

“I'm grateful where I am today.”


Another FULL Chicago Soldier Field Review

How's My Living

When you’ve been waiting for around twenty years to see a concert, there’s essentially no hope of being truly objective when talking about the show. But that’s just the way things are. I was never exactly a normal kid, and that includes my music sensibilities, given that I grew up with a steady listening stream of awesome music (hi, mom and dad). When other kids were left at home alone, they’d, I don’t know, throw parties and spend hours on the phone or something. I fired up the record player and listened to the Highwaymen or Elton John. I knew the words to Neil Young’s “The Needle and the Damage Done” before I had any idea what they actually meant. Sometimes, I would bring Eagles cassettes with me to school and ask the bus driver to play them, because I got sick of everyone else bringing Metallica. So no, I’m not exaggerating when I say that making it to this show has been a very, very long time coming.

By all my normal standards — does the band mesh well with the audience? do they feel free to experiment with their songs? can I see anything? – my review should be a list of things that didn’t work for me. I was far away from the stage and I had a gigantic pole partially blocking my view of the screens. For the most part, the songs were note-perfect copies of the recorded versions. And the four (remaining) Eagles barely seemed to mesh well with each other, let alone build a cohesive rapport with the audience. But for some reason, none of that is getting me down. Remember, twenty years in the making? Yeah.

The Eagles did exactly what I expected them to do: take a tour through all of their greatest hits and some of their solo work. Joe Walsh was as goofy as always, a stark counterpoint to the pretty stoic way the rest of the guys were. Glenn Frey served as “master of ceremonies”, making a few efforts to address the crowd. But no one was at the show to hear witty banter and stories and see a show full of new material. They were there to hear the music. And that’s what the band excelled at, with the help of several other backing musicians and a stellar horn section. The huge crowd sang along with every word, and even picked up some of those falsetto harmonies (although it doesn’t seem like Don Henley’s lost his ability to hit any of those notes). The setlist stuck with the old, well-loved classics, only touching on 2007’s Long Road Out of Eden once, with “How Long”. “Hotel California” provided one of the few surprises of the evening, both in its placement so early in the set, and in its extended intro by solo trumpet. I enjoyed this little tweak (although the instrumental solo is something they’ve been doing in one form or another for a long time now) just because it adds a little more anticipation. Their songs are so familiar and well-loved that they can be identified by just the first few chords, “Hotel California” in particular. Nothing wrong with building a little bit of anticipation, right?

The only low point for me came during the performance of Don Henley’s “Dirty Laundry”. The screen behind the band, which generally alternated between showing various imagery, video clips, and the live feed of the show, aired an accompanying video montage of news footage (much of which was taken from Fox News) photos, magazine headlines, etc. While the images appropriately backed up the song’s message, I spent more time wondering what the barrage of images said about the band’s politics than I did actually listening to the song. It was actually a little weird and uncomfortable, and I was glad when the montage came to a close, instead using mock magazine covers featuring the band.

The other two acts on the triple bill were enjoyable, as well. The Dixie Chicks showed that even though they haven’t performed together or released new material in years, that they’ve still got it. While lead singer Natalie Maines seemed a bit awkward at times when addressing the audience, their performance was just as smooth and full of attitude as it was when I saw them ten years ago at Lilith Fair.

But the real surprise was Keith Urban, who pretty much stole the show. He was enthusiastic, charming, and put on a strong performance that was more like a rock show than anything approaching what you would think of as stereotypical country. At one point, he put on a Blackhawks jersey (Patrick Kane, for the curious) for a song, and then later led the crowd in a sing-along to wish his wife (Nicole Kidman) a happy birthday. Urban even made his way through the crowd to perform, surrounded by people, on a platform set up off to the side in the middle of the stadium. (I spent the whole time wondering whose idea it was to set up a random table on the field level. And then Keith Urban was there! And then I was like, “oh!”) If you were looking for surprises at the show, look no further than Urban’s performance.


To close....Skeptics, You Are 15 Years Too Late!

innervoice: It makes me wonder how p!ssed Nic is that there is no audience for Keith to hear his undying declaration o' love.

And how funny is it that when the Eagles sing "Dirty Laundry", tabloid pics of Kidman's plastic surgery face are shown several times on the screen? (Personally, I thought it was hilarious). I chose to see the Eagles twice on this tour, sans Keefus and his Chicks.

Remember this from 1995? Pay close attention starting at 1:07

"Dirty Laundry" is hitting back at the tabloid media, the very thing the skeptics secretly love but denounce every day. How would they live and breathe without it?

It's. Just. Too. Easy.



Anonymous said...

Huh? In a stadium show, who can even see graphics? The first 4 rows?

Anonymous said...

Innervoice watched the video of Keith and the audience singing Happy B-day with her eyes closed.The skeptics closed their eyes and ears and make up lies and are always caught. Hahahahahaha.

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