Last year, Keith Urban‘s massive ripCORD World Tour sold out stadiums, arenas and amphitheaters across the globe. Last night, the country star opted to get back to his roots by performing to a crowd of just 100 fans in one Nashville‘s tiniest clubs.
With just two hours notice, Urban revealed his plans to play a free show at The Basement via his social media pages. Fans quickly snapped up wristbands for the gig, many waiting for over three hours before Urban took the stage. It’s not uncommon for country stars to play small, one-off performances in Nashville. In fact, Garth Brooks played a special invite-only set for only 90 people at the Bluebird Cafe across town that same evening. But instead of an industry event or a radio secret show, Urban’s surprise set seemed to simply be a way for him to scratch a musical itch that’s been building for the past few months.
There’s nowhere to hide in a venue as small as The Basement. If you miss a note or a beat, the fans standing five inches away from your mic will definitely let you know. Urban made it clear that the night was meant to be loose and fun, and that mistakes were just part of the journey. The invisible barrier that’s usually built between the artist and the fan for large-scale shows was down. There were no video screens or light shows. It was just the music, and that was more than enough for those in attendance.
A few songs in, Urban took a moment to thank fans for giving him the opportunity to let off some steam. A fan in the front row thanked him back, and explained how she had been having an especially hard week. The two exchanged a few words before Urban reached out and gave her a long hug.
“It’s been a hard month, really.” Urban noted. It’s been over two weeks since the Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting, but it’s a topic that’s still fresh on both artist and concertgoers’ minds. Those horrible events were another factor in Urban’s decision to play for whoever opted to show up. “I really needed tonight. I just wanted to play music so we can remember what it’s like to be alive, to celebrate, to be together and to enjoy this beautiful, precious life,” he told the crowd.
When it came to the music, Urban all but threw his normal setlist out the window. Along with his recent hits “Blue Ain’t Your Color,” “Somewhere In My Car” and “Wasted Time,” he began taking some fan requests. The now-rarely played “‘Til Summer Comes Around” and “Walkin’ the Country,” a track from Urban’s days with his band The Ranch, earned plenty of cheers from the crowd. He also added in covers of Steve Miller Band’s “The Joker,” Mike Posner’s “I Took a Pill in Ibiza,” and Bob Marley’s “No Woman No Cry.”
After two straight hours of performing, Urban wrapped things up by hinting that he’ll return for another intimate show in town soon. Whether or not that happens, those 100 lucky fans left with an experience that will never be duplicated.