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Keith Urban, O2 Forum Kentish Town, London live review

The much-loved Country star performed his first UK show in 12 years.

Keith Urban
Credit: Capitol Nashville

Keith Urban last played a show in the UK 12 years ago. It’s been so long that many fans wondered if he was ever going to come back. This weekend he’ll be headlining C2C: Country to Country, making a lot of Country music fans very happy. Ahead of his show at The O2 Arena on Friday, Urban announced a more intimate show at the O2 Forum Kentish Town in London. Fans went wild as soon as tickets were released and it’s safe to say there’s been a lot of anticipation around Urban’s UK live return.

When it was announced that Urban was doing a headline London show just two days before his C2C appearance, it seemed an unusual move. On the one hand he’s not been to the UK for 12 years so it was a chance for people who don’t go to C2C to see him but he was one of the big draws of this year’s festival, which leaves you wondering if the one-off show impacted ticket sales. For those doing a double Urban this week, like me, it was an opportunity to see him in a smaller venue than he’d normally play.

Urban opened the night with his current single Never Comin’ Down from latest album Graffiti U before going into classic hit Days Go By. It was a good indication of what was in store for the night. Some fans have been very vocal in their dismay regarding Urban moving away from his roots on his last two studio albums. Last night, deliberately or not, he offered up a career-spanning collection over the course of his near 135-minute show that should please all of his fans.

In fact the set list sequencing was pretty genius. The Graffiti U songs, which are probably his most contentious, were spread throughout the night and they offered a welcome change of pace at regular intervals. The bass-driven Drop Top featuring Kassi Ashton was a highlight while Love the Way It Hurts (So Good) is an example of Urban pushing the boundaries of Country music as far as possible. The majority of the audience though were there for the classics and those came thick and fast during the night.

Somewhere in My Car was one of the night’s first proper sing-a-long moments but Stupid Boy, which Urban played acoustically, was the moment the audience became truly engaged. Following that up with Somebody Like You kept the crowd’s attention and singing going, so much so that Urban let the audience sing the first verse without him. Blue Ain’t Your Color was a highlights as was the surprise inclusion of an acoustic version of Making Memories of Us.

Elsewhere in the set support act Kerri Watt joined Urban for a rendition of The Fighter, which saw Urban move into the audience during the song’s second half where he stayed for a medley of hits and to give a fan his guitar (yes really). The triple punch of Gone Tomorrow (Here Today), John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16, and Wasted Time from Ripcord caused the audience to erupt into a party and paved the way for the encore.

Returning to the stage to screams and cheering, Urban launched into a passionate acoustic rendition of You’ll Think of Me before ending the night with Horses. It was a high-energy end to a very high-energy show and Urban thanked the crowd for their rapturous reception. I did wish that the area I was stood had been a little more respectful as there was a level of chatter that wasn’t really suited to a Country gig.

Urban’s London return was a triumph. It got those of us going to C2C this weekend very excited about seeing him again, and it reminded everyone why Urban is one of the most-loved musicians in Country music. He and his band were incredibly tight and they didn’t miss a beat all night. Urban was in fine form vocally and his charisma shone as he interacted with the audience signing items for fans and bringing one fan on stage near the beginning. He’s a true showman with an impressive catalogue of hits to back it up, and I can’t wait to see him again on Friday.

Set list: 1. Never Comin’ Down 2. Days Go By 3. Coming Home 4. Somewhere in My Car 5. Long Hot Summer 6. Parallel Line 7. Put You in a Song 8. You Gonna Fly 9. Stupid Boy 10. Somebody Like You 11. Good Thing 12. Love the Way It Hurts (So Good) 13. Blue Ain’t Your Color 14. Making Memories of Us 15. Drop Top 16. Cop Car 17. The Fighter 18. Kiss a Girl / Who Wouldn’t Wanna Be Me / You Look Good in My Shirt 19. Gone Tomorrow (Here Today) 20. John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16 21. Wasted Time 22. You’ll Think Of Me 23. Horses Performance date: 6th March 2019

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