When an artist like Keith Urban goes on tour, he can have his pick of openers from the wealth of talent in Nashville. The Raise ‘Em Up tour shows an artist’s touch in its makeup. Each artist has a very different sound and yet, they compliment each other.
Brett Eldredge kicked off the show, coming out to excited cheers with a grin as infectious as his music. Appreciative cheers greeted the unveiling of a piano that doubled as a wet bar, which sums up Brett perfectly: a masterful musician with a not so hidden fun side. He lit a match to the energy of the crowd with hits like “Don’t Ya” and “Mean to Me”. Many times the first artist on stage at big shows performs with a low buzz of conversation in the background, but not Brett Eldredge. Everyone knew him, sang along with his songs, and danced. There weren’t at lot of heads bent over the glow of phones at this show.
If Brett lit the match to the packed audience, Jerrod Niemann was a drum of gasoline dumped onto the fire. Hands, phones and drinks lifted in tribute as he entertained with a little Johnny Cash and a lot of his hit songs. Thousands of voices sang along with, “Lover Lover”, “What Do You Want”, “Shinin’ On Me”. Niemann brought the fun to the concert, joking with the crowd about the bras hitting the stage and performing songs rich with double entendre. “Buzz Back Girl” is the latest single from the country hitmaker’s album and the catchy tune was well received, the audience picked up the chorus quick and joined in.
At one point a banjo playing band member appeared wearing a grinning donkey head in time to play the hilarious song, “Donkey”. Wrapping up his set with his latest number one song, “Drink to That All Night”, the only fault with Niemann’s set was it was over too soon.
The main act of the night came out to a crowd built up to an inferno by the artists ahead of him. The roar when Keith Urban appeared drowned out the music. Within a few beats he had the crowd wrapped around a finger and there wasn’t a person among the 18,000 present who didn’t feel like Keith Urban sang to them personally. Screams rang out when he would go into intricate guitar solos. It’s hard to pick songs that stood out since the entire show was electrifying, but the new single “Somewhere in my Car” was my favorite. For the first time all night I saw people bent over phones, and that was only because they were looking for the song on iTunes.
Local artist Whitney Doucet of Fitchburg, Massachusetts joined Urban on stage for “We Were Us” and blew away the audience with a performance that left even Urban amazed. It’s hard to try to fill the talented boots of Miranda Lambert, but Ms. Doucet pulled those boots on and owned them.
Song after song, Urban outdid himself and gave a show that will be remembered for years. Many artists perform to their audience, but Urban embraces them, pulls them in and makes them feel like family. If there’s any summer tour that should be on the “Must See” list in America this year, it’s the Raise’Em Up Tour.
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