There weren’t many moments during Keith Urban’s Friday night (Oct. 7) Speed of Now Tour stop in Nashville where the country hitmaker took one of his songs as recorded on his 11 studio albums and presented it to the crowd without interference. The twists and turns of a nearly 30-song set list helped his two-and-a-half hour show pass quickly. If you took a bathroom break or ducked out for a refreshment, you probably missed something you’d never seen before.
Appearances by Luke Combs and an unknown Lower Broadway honky-tonk singer, plus a tribute to Loretta Lynn, are the moments fans will remember, if only because so many of the other electrifying highlights are more difficult to describe. Heavy synthesizers on “Kiss a Girl,” the additional tortured lyrics to “You’ll Think of Me” and the extended version of the under-appreciated “God Whispered Your Name” deserve as much attention. But what is there to say, other than those moments were “awesome!”?
An album cut named “Tumbleweed” (with notes of Ram Jam’s “Black Betty”) set the tempo before Urban and his tight five-piece band played “Days Go By” like it was the encore. The singer let the crowd know he planned on tributing the journey from Lower Broadway’s honky-tonks to Bridgestone Arena on this night, and an unknown artist named Kayley Green proved his point. How unknown is Green? We couldn’t even find a digital footprint to verify the spelling of her name, but thankfully our friends on Twitter steered us to her platform.
Few things are more satisfying in life and country music than seeing someone rise up to meet a moment, and that’s what she did during “Independence Day.” The Martina McBride cover is often used to showcase vocal prowess, but Green’s voice added a little warble without sacrificing power. She was tremendous.
So too was Combs, who joined Urban on seven songs — and two very extended solo breaks — later. Once again, Urban was happy to step back and play acoustic guitar as the younger signer performed his hit “When It Rains It Pours.” Then, they teamed up for Urban’s Eric Church duet “Raise ‘Em Up” before Combs, a new father, left the stage.
Seemingly every song came with a wrinkle for those who might have been tempted to check Twitter before the second chorus. Experimental solos during “Long Hot Summer” and “You Look Good in My Shirt” were a fascinating reminder that playing guitar really well is still really, really cool. A John Denver cover led into Urban’s own “Better Life.” “Somebody Like You” became the Lion King song, “In the jungle, the mighty jungle …” Some people make a living — and sometimes even sign recording contracts — because of their ability to keep a TikTok audience glued to a video for longer than 10 seconds, but it’s Urban, age 54, who is showing everyone how that translates to the stage.
Every one of these deviations did not work equally well, and if there’s a criticism to be made, it’s that the singer spent more time explaining than usual. This writer did take a refreshment break during the portion of Urban’s show where he lets his band take the microphone (I’m not sure what I missed, but it sounded wild and amazing, and when I returned there was a fresh energy in section 106).
Urban paused during the show’s first hour to honor Loretta Lynn, who died on Tuesday (Oct. 4) at age 90. “Blue Eyed Kentucky Girl” and “You’re Lookin’ at Country” — performed solo on acoustic — were fine selections for him, and the singer didn’t linger too long on the sad occasion. It was just enough to say thank you, something the hometown crowd appreciated.
The Speed of Now Tour has nine dates remaining, through Nov. 5 in Minnesota. Ingrid Andress and Tyler Hubbard opened the show with their mix of hit songs, album cuts and covers. This is Hubbard’s first time opening a tour since the early days of Florida Georgia Line, and he proved more than willing to do the hard work of warming up a crowd for the night’s star.
Keith Urban’s Nashville Speed of Now Tour Set List:
“Tumbleweed” with shades of “Black Betty” by Ram Jam
“Days Go By”
“John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16”
“Kiss a Girl”
“Independence Day” (Martina McBride Cover, with Kaylee Green singing)
“We Were Us” (With Green)
“Blue Eyed Kentucky Girl” (Loretta Lynn Tribute)
“You’re Lookin’ at Country” (Loretta Lynn Tribute)
“Brown Eyes Baby”
“Long Hot Summer”
“Never Comin’ Down”
“Somewhere in My Car”
“God Whispered Your Name”
“When It Rains It Pours” (Luke Combs cover, with Luke Combs singing)
“Raise ‘Em Up” (With Combs)
“You Look Good in My Shirt”
“One Too Many” (Pink appears via video)
“Thank God I’m a Country Boy” / “Better Life” (Medley from second stage)
“You’ll Think of Me” (From second stage)
“Somebody Like You” / “In the Jungle”
“Blue Ain’t Your Color”
“The Fighter” (Carrie Underwood appears via video)
PICTURES: See Inside Keith Urban + Nicole Kidman’s Luxurious Tennessee Farmhouse
Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman were living it up in their 5,086-square-foot, 4-bedroom farmhouse in Franklin, Tenn., a rural community 30 minutes outside of Nashville. The house is beautifully well-appointed. The master bedroom features a very large walk-in closet, and the gated, 35-acre property also includes a gym, recreation rooms, an office and a three-car garage, as well as a utility barn. The couple sold their rural farmhouse in 2018 for $2.7 million.