Be Here Now: Keith Urban Live at Stage 48
It’s 7:30 p.m. and Keith Urban is currently chatting with two fortunate fans who won the opportunity to meet him as a result of simply streaming his music on TIDAL. Even from afar it’s clear by their animated movements and toothy smiles that they’re positively euphoric to be interacting with the country music sensation and it’s really not all that hard to understand why. For well over a decade the multi-platinum-selling, Grammy-winning, Australian-born superstar has been packing stadiums across the globe. Tonight, however, for his TIDAL X: Keith Urban event, he’s opted for a decidedly more intimate venue, premiering songs from his brand new eighth album, RIPCORD, for an eager crowd of about 800 at New York’s Stage 48.
Saying goodbye to the two fans, Urban walks in my direction, headed toward the green room to join his band just before the show. Though I fully expect him to pass me and my colleague by, he stops and offers his hand. “Hi,” he says with a kindly expression in his charming Aussie accent before asking our names. He goes on to talk with us for a few minutes about nerves, his guitar playing, the weather and despite the fact that I’m interacting with a bonafide icon it feels entirely natural, as if I’m having a conversation with a friend.
That’s just the kind of guy Keith is. His generosity of spirit is smack dab in the middle of everything his fans appreciate about him and it radiates from his person as he takes the stage, gesturing enthusiastically to fans he knows in the front row, many of whom have attended well over 100 of his shows. There’s actually a club for these devotees called the 100 Club, where fans who reach the impressive benchmark are treated to a special event that included in the past a flight, hotel room, meals, backstage passes, custom apparel and more, all paid for by Urban himself. Members of this community are more like a family, to Keith and each other, and repeatedly come together from all around the world.
“When I’m at a Keith Urban show, it’s like none of the problems in my life exist. I’m totally free,” one young 100 Club member tells me. And you can see that in their reaction to his performance, you can see just how much the experience means to these fans. Despite never having listened to his records myself, I found myself wholly enthralled in the live show, dancing, stomping my foot, picking up bits of lyrics and singing along whenever I could. Everybody sings along on the more upbeat numbers and at times it feels as I’m driving down some dark rural road with my closest friends with the radio blasting out into the night as we yell out our hearts without fear, heartache or anxiety.
Of course Keith’s veteran fans were as gracious as he, happy to welcome me with open arms to my first Urban show. They absolutely reveled, for instance, in my uncontrollable excitement over his guitar playing and jumped up and down with me as “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16” transitioned flawlessly into “So Lonely” by The Police. There were intimate, more sensitive moments too, moments that elicited collective commiseration among the crowd. As fun as the cheerful tracks were, I too enjoyed the collective vulnerability on display during such songs as “Blue Ain’t Your Color” and “Stupid Boy.” It may have been my first Keith Urban show but it will not be my last.
“I just want to thank TIDAL for such an amazing night!” said TIDAL X contest winner Alexa. “Meeting Keith was such an amazing experience and he was one of the nicest people ever and is such a genuine guy. It’s really great to see big time artists like him not only care so much about the music but also so much about his fans. I’m really excited for his new album to come out and I know I’ll be blasting it all summer.” Listen to RIPCORD today and be sure to stream TIDAL X: Keith Urban to experience the intimate show yourself, available only on TIDAL.
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