Urban’s pop-country mix breezes through Boston
This has turned out to be Australia week for country shows in Boston. Keith Urban (New Zealand-born, but Australia-bred) was preceded in town two nights earlier by compatriot Kasey Chambers. Of course, the type of country played by each is worlds apart.
Chambers brought her acoustic country-rock mix to a crowd numbering around 200 at the Wilbur Theatre, where her band sat for much of the evening, playing on an unadorned stage.
Urban plays the sort of country that gets performed in stadiums - on Friday night, the TD Garden, which wasn’t sold out, but still housed a healthy crowd of thousands. He had the usual accoutrements of arena country, including a giant oval-shaped video screen and roller-coaster-like loops of track overhead for trains of spotlights. Bounding from end to end, he used that stage to its full extent (and even brought three audience members up on it to sing). He went beyond it, too, popping up on a riser in the middle of the audience for three songs midway through the show.
That sort of country is now America’s pop music, and Urban has become one of its premier purveyors. Friday, he offered a steady stream of breezy anthems perfectly suited to a summer concert (even if this one was indoors, and it was raining outside). “Put You in a Song’’ to kick things off, “I Told You So,’’ “I’m In,’’ “You Gonna Fly,’’ “I Wanna Love Somebody,’’ an extended “Better Life’’ for the finale - all were soaring, hook-filled, ringing with “oh-oh’’ choruses, and stuffed with Urban’s guitar pyrotechnics and sometimes over-the-top shredding.
The only thing that punctuated that stream was Urban’s other speciality, a species of intense balladry. Urban made a sly comment about this when he prefaced one ballad, “Making Memories of Us,’’ with a bit of Paul McCartney’s “Silly Love Songs,’’ followed by a gorgeous, hushed version of the song.
“Stupid Boy,’’ a killer song, featured some extraordinarily pretty guitar work that finally went just a little too far - which was just about as far as you’d expect a guitar-slinging arena rocker like Urban to go.
Stuart Munro can be reached at email@example.com.