On the 1st of May, Keith Urban, an Australian country rocker, played City Hall in Newcastle. This was his second of six UK dates on The Speed Of Now World Tour – supporting his latest album The Speed of Now Part 1, released in September 2020. Originally due to play the UK in May of the same year, his four dates were expanded to six. He was touring without support, which definitely helped the roadies as his stage set was quite elaborate.
Keith took to the stage to cheer from the crowd and launched into “Wild Hearts”. Building on the crowd’s excitement, he played “Long Hot Summer”, accompanied by the audience’s clapping. Clearly enjoying himself, Keith and the band drew out the end of the track with some guitar solos, repeating lyrics and talking to the audience, none of which – unsurprisingly – annoyed the crowd. They weren’t even perturbed by his need to change guitars mid-track (not sure if it was a tuning or string issue, but there are definite advantages to being able to travel with spare guitars and a guitar tech).
After Days Go By, Keith took a break from playing to talk to the audience. Promising to make up for a lost time, he talked about local places; the Meat Stack and Tuxedo Princess. It’s always good to see an artist has spent time doing a little research on where they are playing and wanting to bond with their fans. Following being heckled by someone who those of us in the upper levels couldn’t make out, Keith got the heckler up on stage with him. Dean – who was partially lubricated by this point, and of course was cheered on as “Deano” by the audience – told about his visits to the Tuxedo Princess “back in the day” before being invited to sing with Keith – a rather entertaining interlude for all.
Following a return to regular programming, and suggesting the audience leave all their worries outside, he started “Parallel Line”, which sounded great with the crowd singing along. After this the concert continued as expected, the next seven numbers ranging from his last few albums along with his latest single “Nightfalls” and three songs from his latest album – with a short break to sing happy birthday to someone in the crowd. The newer songs included his duet with P!nk, which was staged in a great way – Keith playing the song live and P!nk’s parts shown on a large video screen at the back of the stage.
Things calmed down a little after this, moving to a spot in the middle of the crowd with Keith playing a cover of Adele’s “Easy on Me” – which came about when he played the fill-in shows for her in Vegas. Another song was enhanced by the crowd singing along and featured an interesting explanation from Keith as to what it meant to him. He followed this with “You’ll Think of Me“, describing it as a “revenge love song”.
Returning to the stage with his band, and playing what was probably the best-received song of the night – “Somebody Like You” – everyone was up on their feet. Mid-song there was a break, the audience still clapping along, while Keith talked about guilty-pleasure songs, before launching into “The Lion Sleeps Tonight “- which of course the audience joins in with and were – naturally – word perfect. Back to the song after some interesting messing with the lights, mobile phone torches, and the crowd singing along with Keith a Capella. The band finished the song with flare – It would have made a great finale, but there was more to come.
The band introductions gave the musicians a good chance to showcase their skills solo, and they were definitely a talented bunch.
The last few songs included his single with Carrie Underwood, who appeared in the same way P!nk had earlier.
The whole show was vastly enjoyable. Not only was Keith’s guitar playing great, the whole thing was put together well but was not overly choreographed. Even without knowing all the songs being played, it was immensely entertaining, and if you get a chance to see Keith Urban and his band play live (and like this sort of music, of course), it’s definitely worth the ticket price.
The Speed of Now World Tour is playing the US and Canada this summer and autumn and is due to visit Australia in December.
More photos can be found here.