Keith Urban packs Davis Park

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//img-gR1TFxCj1q.jpg’, ‘Photo by James Thompson’, ”);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//img-NWemyAOjcP.jpg’, ‘Photo by James Thompson’, ‘Country star Keith Urban performed before a record crowd June 25 at Davis Park as On The Waterfront unveiled its new Stars and Guitars series. Journey will take the stage July 2 and Foreigner lead singer Lou Gramm performs July 3.’);

This is just a guess, but I think there are a few country music fans in Rockford. Keith Urban played for one of the largest crowds ever assembled at Davis Park Friday, June 25. The reserved seats sold out, and thousands crammed into the general admission lawn section to see the 37-year-old country star.

Urban’s widespread appeal can be attributed to his willingness to mix not only musical, but cultural influences into his music. While growing up in Australia, Urban was inspired by traditional American country artists, including Dolly Parton and Glen Campbell. In time, he also gravitated toward rock acts like Dire Straits and Fleetwood Mac. As a result, he formed a unique blend of country rock that has impressed music lovers across the globe.

With such an immense and energetic crowd to greet him, it was fitting that Urban opened the first Stars and Guitars show with the no. 1 hit, “Who Wouldn’t Wanna Be Me?” For the next hour and a half, Urban performed his best-known songs from earlier efforts such as The Ranch and Keith Urban, but concentrated mainly on material from his 2002 multiplatinum release, Golden Road. This included hits like “Raining On Sunday,” and “Somebody Like You,” which remained at no. 1 for eight weeks. Both numbers not only showcased his vocal talents, but his expert guitar playing as well.

Another crowd favorite was “You’ll Think Of Me,” a reflective piece about moving on after a failed relationship. Urban also performed the emotional “But For The Grace Of God,” which featured alternating fiddle and guitar solos. The musician’s varied influences became apparent when he covered “Walk The Line” by late country legend, Johnny Cash, and “Free Fallin’” by rocker Tom Petty.

Throughout the show, Urban thanked the crowd for coming and made many references to Rockford in his songs. He also told the audience that he went to Kegel’s earlier in the day and took a motorcycle ride past Byron and Oregon. With his good-natured charm and humor, it is not surprising that Urban quickly endeared himself to the crowd.

Craig Morgan, a more traditional country singer, opened for Urban. He played a full set that featured songs from his latest album, I Love It. He proved to be a very energetic performer and even ran through the reserved seat section hi-fiving fans. Morgan will return to the area when he plays at the Dixon Airport July 2 at 8 p.m.

Urban echoed the crowd’s feelings when he proclaimed, “This is a pretty awesome night.” With the success of the first Stars and Guitars series, hopefully the event will be able to bring other talented performers to Rockford again next year.

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