ACM Awards: Keith Urban Keeps Energy High at Party for a Cause

ACM Nominees Lee Brice, Brett Eldredge, Kip Moore Also Perform

LAS VEGAS — Keith Urban stepped out for an encore at the ACM Party for a Cause on Saturday night (April 6) with a wide-eyed look. Already 12:30 a.m., following a 90-minute set, thousands of fans were planted in the parking lot, enthusiastically waiting for more.

For what seemed a minute or two, the stage stayed dark and more than a few people left because the long day of music was running about 45 minutes behind at that point. But ultimately Urban humbly stepped back onstage. After remarking on the group’s incredible resilience and stamina, he asked, “How are you still standing up? If the person next to you moves, will you fall down?”

For anyone who saw Urban’s Light the Fuse tour, this outdoor show at the LINQ followed much the same format — bringing a stunned fan onstage, jamming in the crowd, drawing out the guitar solos to give his hits new dimensions. He’s a fantastic entertainer because he’s always in the moment, pausing every now and then to chat with the crowd and read their handmade signs.

For the encore, he sat by himself at the piano and delivered a surprising rendition of REO Speedwagon’s “Keep on Loving You.” I wasn’t caught off guard by the fact that he knows the song and nails it live but, rather, that every age group in the crowd was singing along.

After that, he scaled it back for “Tonight I Wanna Cry,” which reflects a far less happy time in his life, then strolled back into the crowd for the peppy “You Look Good in My Shirt.” If there was a way for him to suddenly pop up on the High Roller observation wheel in the distance, he probably would’ve done it.

As it tradition by now, he signed off with “Somebody Like You,” more than 12 hours after the festival’s first song of the day. After the song, the emcee directed fans to the Party Stage, where more music awaited.

A longtime fan favorite, Urban won the 2000 ACM Award for top new male vocalist, which proved a smart bet. This year, he’s nominated in four categories, including his first nod for male vocalist in three years.

But fans didn’t have to wait until Urban’s set to see one of this year’s nominees. In the afternoon, top new artist nominee Brett Eldredge brought his groove to the main stage, followed by the grit of fellow nominee Kip Moore. Lee Brice, a male vocalist nominee, opened his set with “Hard to Love,” a title that wasn’t true for the fans up front. Meanwhile, vocal duo nominees Love and Theft (“Angel Eyes”) led the Main Stage lineup while Dan + Shay (“19 You + Me”) wrapped up the pre-midnight music on the Party Stage.

Radio favorites Chris Young, Joe Nichols and Jerrod Niemann, were also part of the day’s lineup, as were newcomers like Tyler Farr, Parmalee, Jon Pardi and many more.

View photos from ACM Party for a Cause.