For Keith Urban fans in Melbourne, it’s been two years in the making waiting for Keith to hit our shores for his “The Speed of Now World Tour”. From restrictions to re-scheduled dates, fans have been patiently biding their time waiting for the big day to come. The tour kicked off in April 2022 in England and the last two shows for the tour were held in Melbourne.

10,000 plus people descended on Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne on Friday the 16th of December to see Keith Urban perform in his second last show of his world tour and to finally see him perform live the songs from his 10th studio album “The Speed of Now Part 1”.

Fans arrived early to see Perth rockers Birds of Tokyo  perform their chart topping and award-winning songs from the past two decades. It was evident by the crowd in the arena that not only were they Urban fans but Birds of Tokyo fans as well. The band kicked off their set with “This Fire” followed by their song “Smith Street” which is about a street in Melbourne. Singer Ian Kenny explained “the song is about going out with your friends and blowing the lid off and having the best night ever”.

The crowd were cheering, clapping and screaming while they sung along to every song in the set. Birds of Tokyo continued to play more of the fan favourites with “I’d Go with you Anywhere”, “Anchor”, “Two of Us” – which Ian Kenny dedicated to everyone’s special someone in the crowd stating, “it’s for that special person in your life that sets your world on fire and makes everything ok”.

The band even treated the crowd to a new song, a song they only put out two weeks before called “Daylight”.

It is the first time the band have got together to record since Covid, with Kenny sharing it was good to see the light again. However, the band saved the best till last with their song “Lanterns”. As soon as the piano tune started the crowd started cheering and clapping. Kenny asked the crowd to get out their phones and light up the arena which everyone happily obliged. It was a beautiful sight seeing all the twinkling lights of the phones while “Lanterns” played.

After a short break with the stage being re-set for Keith’s set, the moment the fans had been waiting for had finally arrive. The arena went dark, and the crowd were cheering, screaming and clapping. The back screen lit up with imagery of a driving car leading to headlights. The picture then merged into three brightly lit rectangles. With each guitar chord that was played an image of Keith appeared with his guitar in each rectangle respectively. After the third chord played, a banjo melody started up and the crowd went wild as the song “Tumbleweed” started booming out from the speakers. The song is a very lively upbeat song, and the crowd were already giving 100% energy of shouting out lyrics, dancing, jumping up and down and cheering to every spoken word Keith said during the song. Keith and the band jumped straight into the second song “Days Go By”, and it was met with the same enthusiasm from the crowd as the first song.

After the second song Keith took a moment to talk to the crowd and said, “two songs in and it’s going off”, which was met with thunderous applause and screams. He then thanked Birds of Tokyo for opening. Keith took the time to then look around the arena and read signs that fans were holding up. He read a sign that said, “You rock our knickers off” and then teased that it was a bloke holding it, even though it wasn’t which had the crowd laughing and cheering. Keith then spotted up on the side seats that there were some fans holding a massive sheet which had the words “This is our 1st concert”. Keith then said, “Let’s get them down here”. The family of 4 then made their way down to the stage.

Once on the stage, the mum was losing her mind! Keith  asking  each of the family members for their names. The kids Josh and Alisha spoke first, and when Keith asked the mums name, she exclaimed “Oh my gosh”, which Keith responded with “nice to meet you oh my gosh” and gave her a hug, which then made her loose her mind even more. Keith said to her at this point, “your husband is just over there”.  Keith then asked her husband’s name, which Keith responded first saying “you have no idea”, but she answered Ben, and then told Keith her name was Bree. Keith continued to have a conversation with them all on stage and Ben told Keith that he was retiring from the Victorian Police force after serving for 24 years. The crowd clapped and cheered enthusiastically. Keith then said to them that he would do a photo with them. They stood with their back to the crowd and had an on-stage photo with Keith with the whole of Rod Laver Arena in the background. Keith certainly made their night, and it will be a moment they will remember forever.

The show did eventually go on and Keith told the crowd that as these were the last two shows of the tour, they would have an extra bit of spice and he would play for the next 2 hours,and he would do his best to turn Rod Laver Arena into a Utopian existence. He said, “by that I mean whatever is going on outside of this arena in your life, whatever is happening outside these walls, whatever stresses, bills or people that just piss you off, whatever is happening out there is not happening in here tonight”. The band then started up again while the crowd were screaming, shouting and cheering enthusiastically. The band then started playing “Wild Hearts” with passion and gusto!

There were plenty of upbeat songs played in the set, but when the pace slowed down for songs like “Parallel Lines”, “A Street Called Main”, “Cop Car” and “God Whispered your Name”, the pace may have slowed down, but it did not stop the performance being fuelled with passion and soul. Adding to the feel of the concert was a spectacular light show of lasers and fog machines creating stunning effects over the crowd looking like clouds through the lights, and every song had its own unique imagery to match the music coupled with a live feed from cameras so the crowd could see Keith and the band on the big screens. Keith also had a camera attached at the top of his guitar neck which provided some fantastic close-up shots of him playing.

If Melbourne thought their guilty pleasure was Keith Urban,they were sadly mistaken. Keith said he wanted two find Melbourne’s guilty pleasure song. Keith then broke out into the song “In the Jungle” and all the crowd broke into song at the top of their voices which had Keith laughing his head off. He exclaimed “what is it with that song”?

In the years of Keith’s music, he has also done duets with artists such as Pink with his song “One Too Many” and Carrie Underwood with “What If I Fall”. Keith performed these two songs at the concert which featured Pink & Carrie Underwood pre-recorded for the songs and showed on the big screen singing their parts of the song. It was received so well by the crowd with the whole arena clapping and cheering as soon as the two artists came up on the screen during the set. The whole arena then broke into song with both songs. It was definitely a crowd favourite for the night.

Another highlight of the concert was when Keith went down into the crowd on the floor where there was a makeshift stage set up for him. The people surrounding this stage got a very personal and up-close view and being able to share in Keith’s music and playing in such close proximity. What made this moment so spectacular though was at the end of his little set on this stage, he signed his acoustic guitar and handed it to a girl in the crowd. The vision of this was on the big screens and again, another fan who lost their tiny mind! And rightly so! What a generous act to do for a fan which created another forever memory for this fan.

When Keith returned to the main stage, he sung another crowd favourite “Somebody Like You”, which had the whole arena singing. During the song Keith took a moment to ask for the arena lights to go fully down and bring it into darkness and for everyone to get out their phones and put their torches on. The arena lit up with thousands of little lights. Keith said, “this right here is proof of what we can not do alone we sure as hell can do together”. The crowd cheered and clapped, and Keithwent back into song with the whole arena joining in.

The last song of the set was “Wasted Time”, and the crowd was not ready to stop partying. The crowd were still singing, dancing, cheering with as much enthusiasm and energy as they did at the start of the show. The song ended with confetti cannons exploding from the front of the stage and showering all those on the floor with bright colourful confetti pieces. When Keith said goodnight at the end of this song and walked offstage, the crowd did not stop cheering, clapping, screaming and making as much noise as they could to ensure Keith and his band did indeed return to the stage.

When Keith returned to the stage, he said “don’t you all want to go home tonight”? He then said thank you to everyone, and he started strumming his guitar and then sent out his love to John Farnham and said he is sending him all good vibes. He then broke into song of “White Christmas” which again the whole arena joined in with. The next encore song was “Stupid Boy”, and the crowd were not going to give up now with singing the whole song back to Keith. They wanted him to stay forever. However, sadly for the fans, the night did have to end, but not before Keith gave many more fans lifetime memories by staying behind after the band all took their bow and going to the front of the stage and standing on the speakers at the front and signing all the things that were being handed to him. He did this for those at the front of the stage and the sides of the stage, staying for another 5 minutes signing posters, jackets, caps, and t-shirts.

Melbourne may have had to wait 2 years to see Keith Urban live, but wow was it worth the wait for these fans. Keith and his band not only gave an incredible performance and show, but he showed several times throughout the show what a genuine, decent, and down to earth person he really is. It is always such a special thing to witness a musician, no matter how big, give something back to the fans. For all the little acts of kindness throughout his show, from bringing a family up on stage, giving away a signed guitar and staying back those extra minutes to sign things for fans, makes all the difference to someone’s experience. These are the moments that people remember forever and continue to tell the tale of for many years to come. It’s such a small act for the artist but such a big deal for a fan. Let’s hope that Keith and his band will not leave Melbourne waiting too long before seeing him at a show again. A brilliant singer, song writer and entertainer that everyone must put on their “to see live” list! Highly recommend it even if you are not a country music fan!

Words by Simone Tyrell

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