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Keith Urban’s Las Vegas Strip show keeps rhythm of unity | Las Vegas Review-Journal
Keith Urban’s Las Vegas Strip show keeps rhythm of unity | Las Vegas Review-Journal


Keith Urban resumes his residency at Planet Hollywood Resort this weekend. (John Shearer)
Keith Urban resumes his residency at Planet Hollywood Resort this weekend. (John Shearer)
Keith Urban resumes his residency at Planet Hollywood Resort this weekend. (John Shearer)
Caesars resident artist Keith Urban performs a sound check to 30 guitar students from Las Vegas Academy during a sound check before his show at the Colosseum Thursday, March 24, 2022. The students got a backstage tour, watched his sound check and one student jammed with him on stage during the sound check. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Caesars resident artist Keith Urban talks to 30 guitar students from Las Vegas Academy at the Colosseum Thursday, March 24, 2022. The students got a backstage tour, watched his sound check and one student jammed with him on stage. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Caesars resident artist Keith Urban shouts out to 30 guitar students from Las Vegas Academy during a sound check before his show at the Colosseum Thursday, March 24, 2022. The students got a backstage tour, watched his sound check and one student jammed with him on stage during the sound check. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto

Keith Urban is not famous for costume changes in his Strip residency production. But there is an impactful instrument change deep into the show.

The country superstar performs a swift drum solo, then casually says, “My dad was a drummer.” A black and white picture of his dad flashes on the big screen, as if to fill out the single-sentence story.

Bob Urban was indeed a musician, and the catalyst for Urban’s career. He made many of his son’s stage outfits, some displayed in glass at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tennessee. He passed along his gift of rhythm, which young Keith observed as his dad tapped away on the dashboard of the family car or at the kitchen table.

Bob Urban, who died in December 2015 after a long battle with cancer, was also a complicated father. He was frequently abusive, an untreated alcoholic. Keith Urban has said in interviews, “I grew up in an alcoholic’s house.”

But the younger Urban, now 55, also has expressed his unbending love for his father, at peace with memories of growing up and his own recovery from addiction.

Urban returns to his immensely satisfying residency in Bakkt Theater at Planet Hollywood Resort on Friday and Saturday, with additional dates scheduled through July 30.

He was in great spirits and in characteristic candor during a recent phone chat. The highlights:

Johnny Kats: I’m really drawn to your family story, your recovery and how you have walked the walk in that world. How are you with your memories of your father today?

Keith Urban: I’m very, very much at peace with the job he did raising me, given his condition as an alcoholic. Knowing now what that was, what that’s like to be one. Look, at the end of the day, I’ve long gotten past being angry at him for not guiding me and teaching me more in my life. But the truth is, he actually gave to me everything he had to give.

It’s as if you resolve that he was working with the best tools he had at the time, right?

Anything he didn’t teach me, he didn’t know himself. So, you can’t be angry at your dad for not teaching you something your dad didn’t know.

You’ve been sober for 16, 17 years, right?

Coming up on 17, yep.

You wear it well.

Thank you, and I don’t really talk a lot about my recovery, publicly, mostly because of what I do for living on stage. I play to people who are, overwhelmingly, having the time of their life, imbibing whatever the hell they are imbibing in. (Laughs.) I just want them to have the best time of their life, whatever that is, and however that is.

Being in that crowd, it works.

I don’t want anyone in the audience looking up and thinking that I have an opinion on any of that. Personally, I do what works for me. I don’t preach it to anybody. All of us are just trying to work out what works for us, whatever that is. I use words when necessary. (Laughs.) So, my thing is just living my life.

One thing about your show is how unifying it feels. That is so difficult to achieve in a crowd in Las Vegas that is mixed with people of different cultures, political affiliations, opinions.

When I come out on stage, I’ve got a job to do, which is to bring everybody together. My only job is to bring every person together for two hours. You know, we’ve got MAGA-hat-wearing folks out there, we’ve got hard-core Democrats, we’ve got independents, we’ve got religious people, we’ve got the I-don’t-give-a-crap, every sexual identity, every pronoun, you’re all in that audience. My job is to find that common thread.

What about expanding on the drums? Are we going to see that?

It’s very much in my blood, and I’ve thought, I’ll do a sort of drum-off with my drummer, which is a way of introducing him. We’ll make this a little piece of the show. It always predicated on him annihilating me; that’s the point of the piece. He needs to crush me so badly that I have to return to the guitar.

He could introduce you, “This is our sub drummer! He’s been with us from the start!”

(Laughs.) I don’t mind a bit of shtick. When we were working on this, I just said to him, “All I can tell you is, it’s completely tongue-in-cheek. At some point, you just need to get more complicated, and more complicated, and then completely crush me.”

We have shtick!

Hey, Freddie Mercury was the king of that tongue-in-cheek shtick. He was amazing. The Beatles, even, were great at it. I love some shtick, keeping our sense of humor … it’s all part of this unbridled experience in Vegas.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

This content was originally published here.










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