Urban in the ‘Burbs

Keith Urban performed on Sept. 24 in Tinley Park, proving why his fans love him so much.


Sarah Kueking, Managing Editor

When someone hears country music, they most likely think of the household name, Keith Urban. With his decades of musical experience, Urban was a former judge on American Idol and is currently a judge on The Voice Australia. 

My friends and I attended Urban’s concert at the Hollywood Casino Amphitheater in Tinley Park, Ill. on Sept. 24. The show was part of his “The Speed of Now” tour, named after his most recent album, “The Speed of Now Part 1.” 

I already knew the venue would be great since I had already been there for the Luke Bryan concert two weeks prior. Making what was good even better, we snagged seats in the middle of the stands instead of off to the side, so we had a clearer view of the stage than at the last concert. Despite this, the merchandise prices were the highest I’ve seen all year, at $40 to $45 per T-shirt. I will admit I found it intriguing how they charged $499 for a signed Keith Urban guitar, but that still seemed way too expensive. 

Before Urban came onstage, two openers performed: Ingrid Andress and Tyler Hubbard. These two performers were by far the best openers I had seen all summer.

First up was Andress, a 31-year-old country artist who just released her sophomore album, “Good Person,” on Aug. 26. She had endless energy and knew how to work the stage, pacing the entire length of it like a lioness in a cage as she sang. Compared to the other openers I had seen at other concerts, Andress had a much more well-developed, mature voice. I also liked how she told the stories behind all of her original songs before she sang them. 

During her only cover, Andress threw herself on the ground inches from the front row as she belted out the notes to a rock song. After Andress thanked the audience and skipped off the stage, I decided I would love to go see her in concert again, and I might have witnessed the making of the next, more eccentric, Taylor Swift.

Fifteen minutes after Andress’s exit, Hubbard came onstage. Hubbard, a 35-year-old American singer, songwriter, and musician, has a much more familiar-sounding voice due to once being a member of Florida Georgia Line. Unfortunately, that means his most memorable songs for most of the audience were songs by his previous band, such as “Cruise” and “Meant to Be.” However, Hubbard’s experience in the music industry is apparent; his voice stands out on its own and, like Andress’s, is very well developed. My friends and I liked his unreleased original songs as well, so I am sure he has a successful solo career ahead of him.

Photo by Sarah Kueking

A few minutes before 9 p.m., Urban made his grand entrance. It quickly became clear why, between acts, Hubbard had encouraged the audience to cheer for Urban in order to get him to come onstage. While speedily strumming his guitar, Urban cupped his hand around his ear and leaned in towards the audience for us to cheer for him not once, not twice, but at least three times until he felt satisfied. Finally, Urban launched into his first song, singing so quickly that he almost sounded more like an auctioneer than a singer.

After Urban got the audience appropriately riled up with a few songs, he paused to talk to us. Initially, he remarked how there were an unusually large amount of signs. Then, to my surprise, the screens behind him changed as the cameramen focused on the signs, and Urban took the time to read all of them that he could. Then, Urban said his goal was to make everyone there forget about all their troubles and have fun. At the end of the talk, he surprised me again by addressing the people in the lawn and telling them to stay there because maybe he would visit them later.

During the rest of Urban’s performance, it became clear who may have taught Andress her performance style. Despite being 23 years older than Andress, Urban nearly matched her energy, even throwing himself on the ground during one of his own songs. Then, during his song “You’ll Think of Me,” he kept his promise by stopping his entire performance to sprint down the aisle adjacent to our seats, security and cameramen trailing after him, cameras bouncing. He stopped in between the section our seats were in and the lawn and belted out a few songs, getting completely soaked in the pouring rain that only the people in the lawn had to suffer through. Of course, neither I nor my friends could get a decent picture of him because we were on a hill and everyone was standing on their seats trying to see Urban. 

At the end of Urban’s lawn performance, he did the unthinkable: He took off his guitar and handed it to a girl. He hugged her before sprinting back onstage to finish his performance. 

Although I attended Urban’s concert for his music, it shocked me how much I learned about him as a person through his performance. As shown through reading their signs, talking to the audience and giving away his guitar, Urban is a kind, generous human being who truly cares about his fans. I would love to see him again next year, for both him as a person and his music. I would truly enjoy seeing Andress again as well for her music and her stories. Although I know little about Hubbard, seeing him again and hearing some old Florida Georgia Line favorites, along with some of his new originals, would be fun too.