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October 3, 2011
Review: Keith Urban concert full of touching moments

By Carla Meyer
cmeyer@sacbee.com

Those fancy bachelorette weekends in Vegas or Napa have nothing on a Sunday night at Power Balance Pavilion.

Stephanie Weckworth, 25, received the ultimate pre-wedding send-off after she held up a sign to Keith Urban reading, "One week till 'I do.' Can I have a hug from you?"

Urban responded by bringing audience member Weckworth on stage. She was wearing a tiara, and Urban, an Aussie and (somewhat confused) subject of the Crown, curtsied before her.

Then he wrapped his arms around the bride-to-be.

"He felt great - he is so buff," Weckworth, of El Dorado Hills, later said.

She has seen Urban eight times, a few of them with fiancé Matt Hewitt. Hewitt supported her from afar Sunday night, Weckworth said: "He helped me color the poster."

Weckworth snagged the most prolonged one, but hugs from Urban were plentiful Sunday night, when his "Get Closer" tour brought him within hand's reach of hundreds of audience members at Power Balance Pavilion.

Accompanied by security, Urban bumped fists, high-fived and sometimes even sang and played guitar while walking from the big stage to smaller, separate stages set up among an audience of nearly 10,000.

The ingratiating, generous Urban also gave his band members solo turns at the mic, encouraged audience sing-alongs throughout his two-hour-plus show, and brought audience volunteers on stage to handle verses of his hit "Kiss a Girl."

When a volunteer went a bit rogue and pretended to steal his microphone, Urban responded with good humor. He played a snippet of the "Twilight Zone" theme just after the amateur singers left the stage.

At most shows, inclusion is an aside. At an Urban show, it's a philosophy.

His determination to share the spotlight impresses even more considering how easily he can fill a spotlight, and hold the audience rapt, with just his voice and guitar.

Urban puts such coiled energy into each note that he's fun to watch whatever the song. But some of his up-tempo songs can sound country-rock generic.

His talent shines most when distilled, on slower songs. Alternately regretful or gorgeously optimistic, these songs highlight Urban's emotive tenor and his brilliant guitar playing, which often serves as melodic counterpoint to his lyrics.

Urban's picking on "Without You" - a tribute to his wife, Nicole Kidman - offered romantic exuberance as Urban's voice expressed awe at finding his soul mate.

His electric guitar created a heart-wrenching cry on "Stupid Boy," in which a guy laments past deeds.

Urban can really wail on guitar. And for the good of a song, not just to riff. He is that rarest of stars: one who is not a show-off.

Call The Bee's Carla Meyer, (916) 321-1118

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