Sure, he's a marquee name in country music, one of the genre's biggest acts. But everything about his persona -- from his disarming good looks and tattooed muscled arms to his pop-glossed vocals and excellent scorching guitar work -- carries the hallmark of a contemporary rock idol. The affected twang that shades the Australian performer's songs is the musical equivalent of a cheap artificial sweetener. The formula leaves a bit of an aftertaste, a reminder that it's not the real thing.
But none of that mattered Saturday night at Farm Bureau Live at
Urban opened with the thumping "Love's Poster Child," which set the tempo for most of the show. The sleek stage design, ablaze with blinding lights, auspiciously announced Urban, who wore tight black pants and a V-neck T-shirt, as he stomped around in laced-up boots, tossing his tresses out of his face and playing a mean guitar.
After three similar songs, the pace slowed a little with "Only
Although Urban performed like a well-oiled professional machine, he managed to charmingly ingratiate himself with an enthusiastic audience dominated by women ranging from college freshmen to well past the age qualification for
Urban invited a woman who said she was from
Urban also shared the stage with a young
Afterward, he eased back into his hits -- essentially retreads of '80s power pop with country flavoring, which Urban pulled off more convincingly onstage than on his albums. Some of the songs had very little, if any, country shading. With its haunting atmospheric arrangement driven by a slow-crawl programmed drumbeat, "
By the time he got to the raucous "Days Go By," Urban had worked his way through the crowd and performed the song on a platform at the opposite end of the amphitheater near the lawn seats. He strummed his guitar, shook his bangs out of his face and sang while smiling, revealing magnificent teeth -- and looking very much like a rock star.
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