Keith Urban
Credit: Henny Ray Abrams/AP

I’m a country music fan, but even though I know that being crowned Entertainer of the Year at the ACMs and CMAs is the highest honor, the title has always seemed, well, kinda cheesy to me — until last night. After seeing Keith Urban live for the first time, at Madison Square Garden, I get why you’d want to honor the artists who go above and beyond.

It’s not necessarily that Urban does anything new, it’s more like he does everything right (beginning with the ginormous screen that runs the full width of the stage). The overview of correctness: He opens the show with “Once in a Lifetime,” which ends with the first of many killer guitar solos and establishes that his voice won’t be the only thing rocking that evening. While most artists save the intimate sing-along ballad for the encore, it’s not long before he’s standing halfway down the catwalk, just him and his guitar, performing “Raining on Sunday.” At the end of that catwalk, there’s a small circular stage where he and his buddies will do a few numbers to give the folks in the back sections something to cheer about, including “You’ll Think of Me” and “Memories of Us.” Having worked every inch of his set, he’ll end up in the audience, with his guitar and mic stand in tow, during “You Look Good in My Shirt.” And because playing one instrument isn’t enough, he’ll tickle the ivories for “Tonight I Wanna Cry” and <a href=”
“>”Got It Right This Time,” the latter of which he routinely dedicates to his wife (last night, because it was already Valentine’s Day in Australia).

It could be the best concert I’ve seen. The only thing it was lacking was the duet he and opener Carrie Underwood have apparently been doing, a cover of Rihanna’s “Umbrella.”

So, who else has had the pleasure of seeing Keith Urban live? And who can explain to me what Kenny Chesney does even better than Urban in order to win Entertainer of the Year, year after year? I’m seeing Chesney this summer. He better bring it.

addCredit(“Keith Urban: Henny Ray Abrams/AP”)