Keith Urban Reveals ‘Ripcord’ Tour’s Secret Weapon
Keith Urban’s Ripcord Tour begins Thursday night (June 2) in Kansas City, and in addition to opening acts Brett Eldredge and Maren Morris, he’ll bring a secret weapon to the stage every night — “The Phantom.”
No, the singer won’t wear a cape or play the part of super hero or master villain. The Phantom is a new instrument created by instrumentalist Nathan Barlowe. It’s a roughly four-foot long box that holds four iPads and a mixing board. The red and black machine faces the crowd, and is played in real time by Barlowe. It works more like a drum machine than a programmed computer, as he’ll keep up with the band in real time.
The above video shows Barlowe working his magic during “Wasted Time.” He also samples licks from “The Fighter,” Urban’s duet with Carrie Underwood. The iPad setup allows him to take samples direct from Urban’s new Ripcord album and play them live, exactly as they’re heard. Not every song is right for the Phantom, so when Barlowe is not working the new-age “ones and twos” he plays a drum machine and a few other instruments.
Eldredge and Morris will join Urban onstage at different points of the show. A B-stage toward the front of audience will allow for a stripped-down mini-set part way through the show. Eldredge will join Urban there, while Morris will join him for "Blue Ain't Your Color" elsewhere during the concert. Most of the new Ripcord album will be played, including “The Fighter” and “Sun Don’t Let Me Down,” Urban’s collaboration with rapper Pitbull. Fans will hear him, while they’ll actually see Underwood. She filmed her part for the show several weeks ago.
The Ripcord World Tour continues through the summer and fall, with stops in Canada and Australia planned before year's end. It’s Urban's first major tour in several years, and fans will find that he’s revamped many of his older hits, like “Where the Blacktop Ends.” He played that song amongst others during a media day in Nashville last week.
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