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Urban dazzles Salt Lake crowd with amazing guitar skills, energy

SHARE Urban dazzles Salt Lake crowd with amazing guitar skills, energy

KEITH URBAN, EnergySolutions Arena, Tuesday

Those not already seated at the start of Keith Urban's Tuesday night show might have believed they were very, very late indeed.

After taking the stage, alone, for an acoustic first verse of his hit, "Once in a Lifetime," Urban and his five-member band exploded into a two-song set with enough intensity to be an encore performance.

The night's energy from Urban or his audience did not wane over the next two hours as Urban performed close to 20 songs, largely from his latest album, "Love, Pain & the whole crazy thing."

Even the Australian musician's ballads, such as his hit "You'll Think of Me," were jazzed up with kicky lyrics and guitar riffs that show off Urban's awesome guitar skills.

In many ways, Urban's "Love, Pain & the whole crazy thing" tour is one of redemption. And for fans who have attended past Utah concerts, it quickly became clear through Urban's powerful performance that he was simply grateful to be standing on the EnergySolutions stage.

Just weeks before the release of "Love, Pain" last November, Urban, who has also admitted to a former cocaine addiction, entered rehabilitation program for alcohol abuse.

The Grammy-award winning musician alluded briefly to his struggles Tuesday night, thanking his fans and country radio for continuing to play his music.

"It's been a pretty crazy 11 months, and I want to take this opportunity to thank everybody here tonight who sent their support and prayers," he said. "Thank you so much."

Before launching into "Got It Right This Time," Urban thanked his wife, actress Nicole Kidman, for standing by his side.

"I would not be sitting in this seat tonight, I swear to you I would not, without my wife. And I wanted to dedicate this song to her."

The song, from Urban's latest album, is about working past one's mistakes to finally find the right person on the other side.

It's been two years since Urban has performed in Utah, and his show has improved greatly in that time. Tuesday night, the Grammy-award winning singer appeared more energetic than ever before, showcasing his musical skills (Urban is considered to be one of the best guitar players in country music), his voice and his personality. He didn't spend too much time interacting directly with the crowd as he has in years past, instead relying on his music to express himself.

Some of the more memorable moments of the night were an acoustic version of the early hit "Raining On Sunday," and an intimate interpretation of "Making Memories of Us," for which Urban and his band moved to a small, circular stage at the back of the arena.

From there, Urban noted the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks by sending "love and prayers to all the family members" impacted six years ago.

Urban's energy carried him through several more songs, including his latest single, "I Told You So," which saw the University of Utah drumline filing on stage for a rousing finale to the song.

After a stream of upbeat hits "Days Go By," "You Look Good in My Shirt," "Who Wouldn't Want to be Me?" "Somebody Like You" and the toe-tapping "Better Life," Urban ended the night with his moving "Everybody."

"It's all about love, Salt Lake," he said before launching into the final song, after which he took a bow and walked silently off the stage.

E-MAIL: awelling@desnews.com