Keith Urban is known for always bringing the most state-of-the-art lighting and video screens on his tour. However, this time he’s focusing on another crucial element — getting closer to his fans, even the ones way in the back.
“I love being entertained. That’s where it all starts for me,” he told CMT Insider host Katie Cook. “The songs are the center of it but … I want to be taken to other places. I want to be connected, and I want to feel like I’m a part of it. No matter where I’m sitting, I’m a part of what that same person down in front is a part of. That’s what I love about arenas — it’s one roof. You can make it happen under one roof.”
Cook chatted with the country superstar at a Nashville rehearsal, just a few days before he launched his much-anticipated Get Closer tour. In this interview, he talks about designing his stage without barriers, as well as keeping a connection to his family while he’s on the road.
CMT: I know you don’t want to reveal everything about your stage just yet, but at a glance, it’s almost like a spaceship with a rollercoaster. It’s pretty cool.
Urban: It’s got a lot of versatility. We had these ramps last year on the edges of the stage, which let me walk in and out of the audience, as well. I liked that myself, but I also liked that feeling for the audience to have more of a feeling of accessibility between us and the stage. I don’t like the big barriers they put up and big burly security people. I don’t enjoy that. I think if we’re trying to recreate anything, it’s the feeling of the club gig. There’s something great about a club gig where you can lean on the stage and you’re right there with the performer. I’d really much rather have more of that.
Because you get the energy from the crowd, too. It’s a very reciprocal thing — that energy. Of course, it’s called the Get Closer tour, so it sounds like you are still going to be getting close to them and still going to be running out into the crowd.
Yeah, we have more stages this year for me to do that. More places to go and perform around the arena. Hopefully, over the years, we’ll keep blurring the lines. The whole arena should be a performance area. That’s what I’m trying to get to. It’s not a stage way up at the end. … The whole place should be able to be performed in anywhere.
I would think being on tour is such a different mindset than home life. How do you get ready for that touring lifestyle? Do you have to kind of get in a tour mindset?
Yeah, I guess so, but I’ve toured all my life. So it’s a very natural place for me to be.
Is your family able to come out and spend time with you so you don’t get too lonely?
I don’t go out for weeks and weeks at a time. I go out for maybe two or three shows in a row — maybe even four in a row — then I’ll go home for a day or two days. Even if it’s a day, I’ll go home and then come back out on the road. I think the shows benefit from it, too. I really do. For me, that’s been my experience. If I get to go home and just get a feeling of home and my family comfort … and come back on a stage, I really want to be there. I’ve been to concerts where you see people phoning it in, going through the motions. I’ve been to some where I’ve thought, “Dude, you should probably take a break. Give me my money back and go home for a while and then come back.” Every night that we’re up there, I want to be there. I really want to play.