Thousands of fans ditched their usual Monday obligations today, swarming in front of Nashville's Bridgestone Arena for a free, lunchtime Keith Urban concert. The daytime showcase was part of Urban's Ripcord album launch, drawing fans from as far away as Alaska and inspiring others to camp out for a front-row spot from 5:00 p.m. the day before.
"I wish you all could see the view from here, it's amazing," Urban shouted from the stage as helicopters buzzed overhead and a crowded mass extended half a block up 5th Avenue toward the Ryman Auditorium. "Who skipped school to be here today? Your parents are concerned, but I love you. Who should be a work right about now? Thank you for coming out!"
Dressed shabby chic in faded earth tones and joined by his full four-piece touring band, Urban delivered a playful set of six new tracks and four reliable favorites, introducing fans to his new, electronically-inspired sound and often stretching out on extended solos.
Along with cinematic carpe diem rockers like "Gone Tomorrow (Here Today)" and his new single "Wasted Time," songs like the velvet smooth "Blue Ain't Your Color" and the lusty, electro-beat-driven "Getting' in the Way" gave a preview of what's to come on Urban's Ripcord World Tour, launching June 2nd in Kansas City.
With his hair flying wildly, and in between convulsive, soulful guitar and ganjo licks, Urban found time to crack a few jokes about the presence of his favorite local food truck (the Grilled Cheeserie), predict a playoff win for the Nashville Predators hockey team later that night and bring a birthday girl up onstage to say hello. The crowd groaned when the 20-year-old sorority member from Clarksville, Tennessee, asked for a selfie, but Urban deftly swiveled her around to get the audience in the shot before moving on to the next song.
This being a Keith Urban show, however, that wasn't all that swiveled, as joyful screams from the crowd punctuated every twist and turn of Urban's hips. After an hour of free tunes, the superstar and his band thanked the estimated 10,000-strong crowd for attending such an oddly timed event, locked arms and took a deep bow. But not before he protested the pre-planned end of the show.
"They're telling me I've gotta go home," he cried. "I don't wanna go home!"
Urban's Ripcord album is out now. Here's the complete set list of his free Nashville concert:
"Gone Tomorrow (Here Today)"
"Long Hot Summer"
"Raise 'Em Up"
"Break on Me"
"Blue Ain’t Your Color"
"Somewhere in My Car"
"Gettin' in the Way"
"John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16"