Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Urban let's smokin' guitars loose in fog City

Last year, I had the chance to see Keith Urban in concert for the first time. Being a hard-rockin' fool myself, I didn't expect much but oh boy, was I surprised!

I should start by telling you that my wife, Carrie, is a true country-music girl at heart and together we've enjoyed some great concerts by the Judd's, Garth Brooks, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. My tastes tend toward Van Halen (the Sammy version), Nickelback, AC/DC, Collective Soul, Pink Floyd (or solo Roger Waters), Neil Young and the like which tend to have one thing in common: heavy on the guitars.

Carrie and our boys are also regular American Idol watchers, so when Carrie Underwood was coming to town... we'll we got four tickets. Underwood was opening for Keith so we started listening to his music in the weeks leading up to the show. His music was good, but seeing him in person was a hard-rocking, rollicking ride. By the time he got off stage at the HP Arena in San Jose, we were hooked.

So when we heard that Keith was doing a special show in San Francisco to get ready for his Defying Gravity release at the end of the month, we signed up to win tickets. Since we aren't Verizon customers (they are the the sponsor for the tour - but we can't use Verizon because we're both hooked on our iPhones) we figured our chances were slim. Thinking we were out of luck after the winners were notified, Carrie trolled the ticket boards and posted a plea for tickets on Craig's List. And while we found them, it was going to cost us $150 per ticket which isn't really a good way for us to spend our currently limited budget (that pesky jobless thing getting in the way again) so we resigned ourselves to buying the new album instead.

Much to our surprise, Carrie got an email on Sunday letting her know we would have two tickets at will call.

The show was last night at the Fillmore, and I have to say it was a great venue for this show. I hadn't been to the Fillmore in 15+ years when I last went to see Chris Isaak. Hasn't changed much, and it's still one of the smokiest venues I've ever been in. But talk about cool - we spent the whole show no more than 20 feet from center stage where Keith worked the crowed the whole night.

Sure, Keith is a country music guy, but all his songs are well written and tightly scored. And the riffs he pulls off keep a guitar-loving guy like me cheering along. He did over 2 hours in front of a standing room that was into it from the start. He worked through most of his "best of..." catalog and mixed in stuff from the new album. He tipped his hat to the local crowd with some nods to San Francisco songs and bands, and he even fired off a series of classic rock riffs from his "formative years." The one thing he didn't bring was the humongous video screen, which worked great in San Jose but would have been out of place at the Fillmore. Overall, a tight, intimate show that let his personality come through. Gotta say, it made for one of my best birthdays ever, and I've now had many more than I care to fess up to.

Do yourself a favor, pick up Keith's new album when it comes out. And if he comes to your town you should really check him out. Just think of Carrie and/or me if you need anyone to go with you.

Cheers! - Jason

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