It has become somewhat customary for four-time Grammy Award winner Keith Urban to spend a portion of his live show standing among his loyal legion of fans.
And he has the battle wounds to prove it.
“There are nights when I come home and I’ve got these big fingernail scratches across the front of my chest,” Urban says during a recent chat before his Chicago tour stop. “I’m grateful that my wife (Nicole Kidman) knows what I do for a living.”
The 54-year-old New Zealand-born Australian lets out a laugh, going on to say that Kidman is quite supportive of his decision to stand face-to-face with his throngs of fans.
“I move quickly through,” continues Urban. “I love dismantling the sort of ‘me and you’ vibe and just become us.”
Urban says his decision to walk freely within a crowd of thousands requires “a whole bunch of trust” between himself and his fans. But it is those same fans that have propelled Urban’s successful career and vibrant live show.
“Before COVID hit and afterwards, the fans have always brought the energy and heart to our concert,” says Urban. The current tour is his first in four years. “They literally are half the thing that makes [the show] work or not work. So, the fact that they bring it every night on this tour is amazing.”
What also sets Urban apart from some of his country music counterparts is his reluctance to airhis political and social opinions, choosing instead to hold them close to his tattooed chest.
“I feel like it’s a difficult time for everybody [who’s] trying to be a bridge builder,” says the country music hitmaker with 18 No 1 hits under his belt including “Blue Ain’t Your Color,” “Long Hot Summer” and “You Gonna Fly.”
“I’m a bridge builder. That’s what I was born to be. It’s not about not having an opinion. It’s about recognizing we have different opinions. And those probably won’t change. And my job is not to change anybody’s opinion. It’s just to find the things we do have in common and where does that exist? And let’s stay in that place for a couple of hours. That’s all I’m asking.”
He draws in a deep breath.
“The world is changing based on these algorithms that put us in these little chambers of reality, based on what we tend to like and believe in,” says Urban, whose latest single “Brown Eyes Baby” currently finds itself on its way to the top of the country music charts. “I get the opportunity every night for two plus hours to bring many people together that might be completely polar opposites politically or religiously or socially, in every way possible. And yet they come together [for this shared experience], and everything is as one, and we sing, and we dance, and we celebrate life. …
I want to get away from all my troubles, all my stresses and worries, and my life. I want to lose myself in some other reality for one night. That’s the environment that I try and create for everybody.”
He can’t wait to create that environment for his Chicago fans.
“I’ve always loved playing Chicago and I don’t know if it’s just the lake or what,” he laughs. “Something brings a vibe out in people that’s quite open and receptive. And I think there’s something about the city, too. It’s got a really high bulls- – – meter. It recognizes it in a nanosecond. That’s why I’ve always loved going there. I love those kinds of people.”