Urban, Crow rock the country crowd with energetic hits
DETROIT LAKES, Minn. - If you're going to play at WE Fest, you don't gotta have a fiddle in the band. It sure helps, no doubt. This is a country music festival after all. But the Soo Pass Ranch crowd's ecstatic embrace on Friday night of Keith Ur...
DETROIT LAKES, Minn. - If you're going to play at WE Fest, you don't gotta have a fiddle in the band.
It sure helps, no doubt. This is a country music festival after all.
But the Soo Pass Ranch crowd's ecstatic embrace on Friday night of Keith Urban, a superstar Nashville guitarist whose rock histrionics get a slight dose of twang from a mandolin player, and the positive reaction to the cheery blues-rock of Sheryl Crow showed, once again, that WE Fest is down with more than country.
"I wish I was camping out," Urban told the crowd at the three-day festival that ends today. "That's where the action's really at."
Not when Urban was playing. He put the action squarely in the concert bowl.
Through his first four songs, the portion of an expected
90-minute set completed before press time, the Australian was absolutely slaying them.
Whether laying down a frenzied solo on opener "Where the Blacktop Ends" or plucking his way through a tender ballad (hey, he needs more than those scruffy good looks to hook the ladies) like "Raining on Sunday," Urban was showing he deserved his first shot at topping a WE Fest bill. He puts on a fantastic, high-energy concert that's right up the wheelhouse for the crowd.
He even accounted for the best moment from Crow's show, when he came out for a loose cover of the Eagles tune "Take it to the Limit." Though Crow stumbled on the lyrics at the start, it was a fun cover, with Urban adding little guitar flourishes during the verses and joining in to sing the climactic choruses.
Crow was even more out-of-the-box than Urban, the latest in a string of non-Nashville performers at WE Fest like Ringo Starr, Ray Charles and many others. It was a bit of a risk, and it worked.
She put on a great show, and the audience responded accordingly. Crow threw most of her big hits into the 15-song set, ending the
80-minute show with the quartet of "If It Makes You Happy," "All I Wanna Do," "Soak Up the Sun" and a rocked-out version of "Everyday is a Winding Road."
The 45-year-old nine-time Grammy Award winner set the tone on her opening number with a free-wheeling version of "A Change Will Do You Good" that morphed into Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction" during the bridge and introduced the crowd to the fine work of her slide guitarist Peter Strout, who can seriously wail.
Not to take the focus off Crow. She's a dynamo musician - singing songs she wrote, playing both acoustic and electric guitars and even taking a turn on bass and the harmonica. It's easy to see why she's in high demand as a collaborator, and why all six of her studio albums have gone at least platinum.
Her voice has an idiosyncratic quality - bold, brassy and breathily intimate all at once - that fits perfectly with her catalog of conversational folk, rock and blues songs. And she's a master at playing with dynamics, using drawn-out silences and stretched-out grooves to build tension.
If she felt out of place at a country festival, she didn't show it. It's pretty unlikely, given she has said she's working on a Nashville album and charted a country hit with Kid Rock with "Picture." Her version of that on Friday night (with bassist Tim Smith taking the reins of the Kid Rock vocal parts) lifted butts out of the box seats with alarming authority. Power of the radio, I guess.
Crow even went so far as to call the crowd "my people, my people" before launching into "Steve McQueen" early in the set.
She was right, I'd say.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Roepke at (701) 241-5535