How did Keith Urban win his crowd on Saturday night?
He simply walked onto the stage.
And when he did, 1,000 or so people in a ballroom at the Overland Park Convention Center jumped to their feet in spontaneous ovation for the “American Idol” judge.
The loudest squeals? From the women, of course.
Urban totally charmed the audience at Kids Night Out, the annual fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City.
His appearance was billed as a private concert. It was just him and his guitars, no band. So it did kind of feel like Keith Urban singing in your living room, except for the glow from hundreds of cell phones taking photos and recording videos.
At one point the more ardent of his female fans in the crowd gathered at his feet in front of the stage, a polite and very well-dressed “mosh pit.”
When he started playing the first notes of “Long Hot Summer,” people lifted the tiny votive candles from the banquet tables and held them in the air, a la lighters at a concert. Urban turned it into a sing-along by letting the crowd sing the refrain.
“That is some seriously good singing, on the first song,” he said. “Wow. You guys were ready.”
They sure were. Just a few recognizable strums into his hit single “Raise ‘Em Up” prompted more than a couple of people to raise their drinks aloft.
After more songs – “Days Go By,” the obligatory version of “Kansas City,” and “Stupid Boy” – three Boys & Girls Clubs members sat with him on stage for a Q&A chat.
(Highlight of the night: When one of the young women sang a piece of opera for Urban, who watched her raptly. The crowd gave her a standing ovation.)
One of the members asked how the singer balances his busy work and personal lives. Urban and his wife, actress Nicole Kidman, who live in Nashville have two young daughters.
“It probably has to do with the fact that I married up, way up. Keeps me on my toes, sometimes literally,” Urban joked, referencing the well-known difference in their heights.
When asked his advice for kids wanting to follow their dreams, his answer drew more loud applause: “Work. There’s no substitute.”
During the live auction that preceded Urban’s appearance, someone in the crowd paid $10,000 to meet the singer later and take home an autographed guitar. Two other people paid $5,300 each for the chance to simply pose with him for a photo.