Keith Urban Achieves Optical Illusion at 2014 CMT Music Awards

Performance Venue Was a Surprise During "Cop Car"

Keith Urban’s performance of “Cop Car” on the 2014 CMT Music Awards was an optical illusion that could have fooled even the most savvy music veteran in Nashville. It all happened Wednesday night (June 4).

By all indications, Urban was at the Bluebird Café, a tiny music venue in the Green Hills area of Nashville. The place is almost as famous for its “no talking” policy for patrons as it is for the countless songwriters who have graced its stage.

Accompanying himself on electric guitar, Urban was in authentic surroundings, including the neon bluebird behind the small stage, the tiny white lights and the shingled roof that serves as decoration. With total silence from the crowd, he turned in an emotional performance of the song that was fitting for the legendary club.

Then the sides and back of the Bluebird set fall away, and Urban is playing to a packed house at the Bridgestone Arena, home of the Nashville Predators hockey team and a place where acts from Paul McCartney and Bruce Springsteen to Lady Gaga and Cher have performed in recent years.

Long a favorite of locals and out-of-towners who appreciate great songs and are more than willing to hear them performed by songwriters who sometimes aren’t necessarily great singers, the Bluebird Café has gained a national reputation after being prominently featured on ABC’s Nashville. With only 90 seats available, it’s more difficult than ever to get into the Bluebird following the success of the TV series.

Urban will be performing Saturday at an even bigger venue — LP Field, home of the Tennessee Titans NFL team — during the CMA Music Festival’s evening concert series. Others on the bill include Chris Young, Darius Rucker, Florida Georgia Line, Little Big Town and Sara Evans.

Calvin Gilbert has served as’s managing editor since 2002. His background includes stints at the Nashville Banner, Radio & Records and Westwood One.