When Keith Urban thinks of summer, one of the first things that comes to mind is tailgating under the awning of his tour bus. In the Best of Summer issue of Entertainment Weekly on stands now, Urban shares five things on his Must List for the North American leg of his Get Closer world tour, which kicks off June 16 — including a Frisbee that he insists he tosses with wife Nicole Kidman (we love that visual) and his six-string banjo, which he likes to play along with any song on his old boom box that sounds like it should have banjo nowhere near it (OutKast’s “Hey Ya!” for example).
But what does Urban have planned for when he hits the stage? “I’m going into the crowd on several occasions. This tour is not just called Get Closer, it’s literally gonna be that, too,” he promises. Having seen him multiple times over the years, we’ve always been amazed at how surprisingly tame fans seem when he’s in the seats playing “You Look Good in My Shirt” among them. Or have we just caught shows with particularly respectful audiences? “I’ll have you walk with me one time,” Urban says, when he’s done laughing. “Maybe from the outside it looks very different, but the lost buttons and ripped sleeves testify to something very different. I’ve come home a few times with scratches on my chest and on my back, and my wife’s gone, ‘What is that?’ And I’m like, ‘Well, I’ll show you,’ and we’ve filmed the audience. She’s like, ‘Oh my god!’ [Laughs] It can be a bit treacherous out there sometimes, but it’s always different, always unpredictable, and I love it.”
Surprises are something Urban appreciates, which is why he’s also reworking a few of his older songs for the tour. “There are certain songs that are sacred. People want to hear them just as they are in their head, they don’t want you messing around with them. And then there are some other songs, if they’ve been around a long time in our set list, that I think we can take some creative liberties with. I’m looking at performing a couple of these songs as if they were remixed,” he says. “Putting our show together has always been about maximizing the entertainment aspect of it so you never quite know what’s coming next, and yet you never feel like you’re not a part of it. Hopefully you feel thoroughly entertained and leave knowing that we spent a long time intricately detailing little pieces of this show so that the two hours fly by. I always think if you’ve done it right, people don’t even know how long you’ve played for. They go, ‘Oh, that’s it?’ And then they look at their watch and go, ‘Ohmygod, it’s been two hours.’ If we do our job right, it flies by. If we’ve really done it right, it’s something that you talk about for a while afterwards and you keep remembering favorite little bits. This tour is definitely full of lots of bits that I hope become people’s favorite little bits of the concert.”
Putting on the kind of two-hour show he refers to as “an intensive workout” in the summer, we had to ask how he plans on beating the heat. “At a certain point, there’s just no way to cool down, is there? Unless you jump in a little kiddie pool, which I’ve certainly done back in the day. But I don’t drink anymore, so that doesn’t happen as much,” he says, laughing. But with two kids in tow, there is a legitimate reason to reinstate the kiddie pool, Keith. “You’re right. We may do that,” he says. “I’ll be much more responsible with how I go about using it this time.”
For more with Keith Urban, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands now.