What a tragic, terrible waste of talent Keith Urban is.
After being dragged under sufferance to one of his shows recently I was forced to remove the cotton wool from my ears and admit that the man has a powerful voice, can play guitar like Springsteen and is, overall, one hell of a live performer. With truly great hair. Sadly he’s been lost to the dork side of music, country and western, where the God-awful Garth Brooks is king.
Urban can write a rockin song, but the problem is that, while his speaking voice is reassuringly Australian (despite being born in New Zealand), when he opens his mouth to sing it sounds like he’s put a peg on his nose and swallowed a banjo, a field of bluegrass, a fiddle and a kilo of American cheese.
To put it another way, he whines like a bitch.
In his lyrics he opines about how his dog died, his truck broke, his favourite assault rifle rusted up and his sweetheart left him. And then he met a millionaire actress who’s as sweet as Tennessee and became incredibly popular on television.
It’s this falsely put-on Nashvillean air that has prevented Urban from having a single crossover, mainstream chart hit. Despite his fame, can you name a single one of his songs?
Most tragically of all, Our Keith seems to desperately want to sing proper songs. His show featured cover versions of U2, The Beatles, AC/DC, Oasis — for which he was joined on stage by the Madden brothers — Ain’t No Sunshine, with a stunning guest appearance by Guy Sebastian, and a fabulous acoustic duet of Flame Trees, with a chuffed-looking Jimmy Barnes.
All of these songs got a far bigger reaction, and a much louder singalong from the crowd, than any of Urban’s own material, perhaps because so many punters had only gone along to see him because they thought he was lovely on The Voice.
Still, he’s probably not that unhappy with his career, considering he can sell out two stadium shows in Sydney, he’s had 14 number one hits on the US country charts and Barnesy obviously rates him.
Watching him bounce around the stage — and repeatedly into the crowd, even giving his guitar away to one adoring female fan — for well over two hours, you can’t help wondering what might have been, because here is a guy with arguably more talent than Michael Hutchence who just took a wrong turn down a dusty musical back road when he was young.
He could have been yet another Kiwi artist we would happily have claimed as our own. Instead, I’d be quite happy for them to take him bick.