Keith Urban’s Strangest-Ever Gig Was at Baggage Claim at a Tiny Australian Airport
Like lots of other country acts, Keith Urban is looking forward to being able to return to the road after an extended break from touring due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But the singer's not sugar-coating life on the road: He knows it's not all glitz and glamour, and he recalled an example of that during a recent virtual appearance on The Late Late Show With James Corden.
When show host Corden asked about his worst gig ever, Urban thought back to the early days of his career, when he and his team were willing to strike a deal in order to snag cheap airfare.
"I don't know if it was the worst, but it was definitely the strangest [gig] — we played in an airport," Urban explains. "Which doesn't sound horrible, except for the fact that it was a tiny regional airport in Australia, like, 20 years ago.
"My manager at the time I think had done some very questionable deal to get us a couple of airline tickets, and we had a three-piece band," the singer continues, adding that the airport was so small that it only had one baggage carousel. That turned out to be the part of the building where they played — and, the singer adds with a chuckle, there wasn't exactly a stage for them, but they did have a makeshift stage of sorts.
"You know the little carpeted area above the carousel where the bags come 'round ... It's like an island thing above it, right?" Urban explains. "Yeah. That's where we had to play."
To make matters worse, the airport manager told Urban and his bandmates to just start playing as soon as they were set up, even though no one was there. He encouraged the musicians to go ahead anyway, saying listeners were sure to show up eventually.
"So we start playing, and a couple people came over, and they're checking out the music, and a few more people [gather], and I'm like, 'This actually is not a bad gig!' There's about 15 people getting into it. And the next minute ... all the bags start coming out," Urban says with a giggle, adding his impression of the flashing lights and honking horns that signal the arrival of a batch of luggage onto a baggage carousel.
"Everyone got their luggage and they just all left," the singer added. "And we were playing to nobody."
Urban may have had trouble drawing a crowd at that particular gig, but he's got no issues grabbing fans' attention these days. In fact, the country superstar recently hosted the 2021 ACM Awards with Mickey Guyton, and he's also featured on two new songs on Taylor Swift's re-recorded Fearless album.
Country Music's All-Time Best Guitarists: