| No rain, but tears fell last Sunday on tour with Keith Urban and CMT
By Kevin Wichman
TOPEKA, KS -- Despite the clear skies, it was raining on Sunday inside the Kansas Expocenter with tears of joy flowing from thousands of adoring fans in attendance last November 21, in Topeka, KS. Admirers traveled from all over the state and those surrounding, nearly packed the house at an impressive two-thirds Kemper Arena size venue. A sensational act, performed by both Urban and newcomer opener Katrina Elam, the show was sponsored by CMT, and lasted from 7:30PM to 11PM. The stunning, 20 year old Katrina jump started the show, setting a rigorous pace to follow singing songs off her debut, self-titled album, most of which were co-written by her. With a beautiful, powerful young voice, always evident on disc, Katrina has now proven herself live. This being her first tour, buzz of timid ness in prior months had developed, but should now fizzle. Notably following in the footsteps of veteran headliner Urban, Katrina now oozes that same fun-loving confidence, radiating on stage, and commanding attention. Only two years removed from her tiny home of Bray, OK, her parents made the trip up, and were in attendance to see her perform. Special to her act was an impressive yodeling performance that received a standing ovation. Lightning FAST! Urban stepped out early to play live the Ganjo (a 6 string Banjo) for her hit “No End In Sight” single (Urban played this instrument for the album’s track in the recording phase). While the men already had eye-candy with Elam, the women now had theirs. I’ve never seen such a wide spread in ages of women rush the stage so swiftly! 6-60 year old women, is arguably the correct assessment!
Soon Urban exploded alone with “These are the Days”, but you wouldn’t have known it through all the screams! Excitement was alive through the Expocenter, as he busted into next, the #1 hit single off his latest Be Here album, my personal favorite, “Days Go By”. “Better Life” and slow jamming “Raining on Sunday” followed, leading to his current top 5 hit “You’re My Better Half”. From latest, to the greatest (atleast to him), his breakthrough track, “Where the Black Top Ends” ensued as I was electrified with the rocking live rendition of this song! Keith Urban is a phenomenal singer, an even more accomplished and extraordinary musician, yet stage presence could now become his greatest strength to those who have seen him live. During the musical interlude of the song, he not only went into the crowd and continued to play guitar, but rendered an improvisational solo that sustained through an upbeat slow walk of one complete lap of the entire arena! From a musicians standpoint, the solo alone was astounding, enough said. To walk around the arena, laugh, smile, take pictures with, and carry roses in your mouth obtained from fans, in conjunction with playing is beyond belief! Hit after hit followed, “Your everything”, “You’ll think of Me”, etc. with a surprising cover of Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin” mixed in.
On Urban’s friendliness and easy going demeanor, a woman in her 40’s at the back of the floor seats brought a sign inquiring a kiss, Urban read the sign from stage, and replied in his Aussie accent “Alright then, if you can get up here, I’ll do it”. The middle aged woman nearly passed out in amazement over the success of her plan, before the crowd watched her sprint and hurdle chairs to get to stage where Urban, kissed her twice. He got back on the mic and got loads of laughs for his next comment, “wow, you Kansans sure are friendly!” Another fantastic strobe light guitar solo occurred, rivaling, if not trumping, any solo I have ever seen to date, across any particular style, based solely on sheer entertainment value. The closing song was “Somebody Like You”, his #1 hit off the Golden Road record, and followed with three encore songs, including Urban on piano for “Thought I Wanna Cry”, back on guitar for a intertwined version of “Who Wouldn’t Wanna Be Me” and a cover of U2’s “Beautiful Day”, and in closing, alike the start, with an encore of the track “These are the Days”. A truly amazing performance by both Urban and Elam worthy of the highest evaluation and sure to make groupies out of once meager fans. No better way could a Sunday night have been spent for a country music fan from Kansas!