Keith Urban gets up close and personal with home grown fans
PARALLEL universes somehow collided at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre for opening night of superstar Keith Urban's The Story So Far Tour.
Anyone who had braved the wet roads around south-east Queensland to hear some ditties from that nice boy Keith from Caboolture may have had a rude awakening to find themselves in the middle of a full-blown rock'n'roll concert.
The Madden Brothers, aka Good Charlotte boys Joel and Benji Madden, opened as support act with their new California-based band.
And the heavily tattooed alternative rockers showed a little of their soft centre as they trialled a couple of new songs from a forthcoming album and burst into golden-oldie covers including The Eagles' Hotel California.
Wearing a Rolling Stones' Sympathy For The Devil muscle shirt, charismatic Joel warmed up the crowd with signature hits I Just Wanna Live, Dance Floor Anthem (I Don't Wanna Be In Love) and Last Night.
And in true rock-star style, brother Benji proclaimed that their mate Keith Urban "is the real-ist Mother F***** we've ever known".
For the next two hours, the capacity hometown crowd agreed as the unassuming Grammy award-winning artist and famed storyteller simply did what he does best: play highly appealing songs that masterly tap into shared emotions and experiences.
After a soft and heartfelt rendition on electric acoustic guitar of Raining On A Sunday, oh-so-cool Keith said simply,
"It's nice to be back".
To deafening cheers, he continued: "This is the first night of our tour so be kind to us.
"It's particularly gratifying to kick it off in Brisbane, and to see this place filled to the brim is amazing."
On that note, he suggested everyone leave all their hassles outside and get out of their chairs and dance.
And sway their hips, throw their arms in the air and clap along they did, to a bevy of greatest hits even relative newcomers to his music would recognize.
Stand-outs vocally and instrumentally were Stupid Boy, the career-making Days Go By, the haunting guitar in an almost Pink Floyd-esque Til Summer Comes Around, and the feel-good Kiss A Girl.
Keith dedicated the simple elegance of Memories Of Us to an old bandmate's wife in the audience who was having a birthday, and Without You to his wife, Aussie actress Nicole Kidman.
By the time he had brought out his Fender Shattered Mirror Telecaster for the ever-popular Love Somebody Like You, the "guitarist's guitarist" had certainly won over the hardcore musicians present.
It was evident from the diverse nature of the crowd that Keith had found a whole new legion of fans, too, after his Mr Nice Guy judge and mentor role on Nine's The Voice and more recently Ten's American Idol.
Sure, Keith's unquestionable eye-candy appeal brought groups of girlfriends out in force with their matching merchandise and homemade T-shirts.
And his loyal, long-established fan base knew all the words to his songs for frequent microphone "throws" to the audience.
But he also drew couples young and old, families with teenagers, and men with a bit of a bromance crush.
The consumate showman proved he always has a few tricks up his sleeve - utilising one-man stages and playing guitar high into the tiered seating, for example, to create a more intimate performance and give all fans a chance to get up close and personal with their idol.
Keep an eye out for his protégé from The Voice, Coolum-based singer Darren Percival, plus an unexpected mid-concert encore from the Madden boys.
The energy-charged, two-hour concert ended with a big bang following Sweet Thing.
We had all become part of the music god's universe. And even only "sometime" fans had to admit it was quite a stellar ride.
Keith Urban's final Brisbane concerts in this tour are tonight and tomorrow night (Saturday, January 26) and Sunday, January 27). Newly released tickets are still available through ticketek.com