“Praying for a great game and great weather.”
That’s what country superstar Keith Urban is looking forward to for Sunday’s Grey Cup in Calgary.
Urban was announced as the halftime show artist for the 107th Grey Cup in September and said he looks forward to playing outdoors at McMahon Stadium during halftime.
“And I saw the weather’s looking good, fingers crossed,” Urban told The Morning News on Global News Radio 770 CHQR Friday.
LISTEN: Keith Urban joins Sue Deyell and Andrew Schultz on The Morning News ahead of playing the Grey Cup halftime show
Urban isn’t afraid of late November cold weather, having played New Year’s Eve 2014 at Niagara Falls, Ont.
“So I’ve got a little experience with playing in the cold.”
What to expect
Urban said he watched old Grey Cup halftime performances for tips.
“I think the medley is the way to go. I’m usually not a fan of medleys,” he said. “I’ve resisted them always over the years, but when you get a situation like this, it’s kind of the most obvious thing to do instead of doing two songs or three songs.”
Fans can expect a high-energy show that he called “an honour” to be part of, Urban said.
“I want to keep everybody warm and up and motivated, with hopefully songs that most everyone knows,” he said.
Urban explained that he will lose himself in the 12-minute performance to keep the nerves at bay.
“I totally get nervous, it’s just compartmentalizing all that. I’m sure, like the players too, you got to channel it and put it into the job at hand. I get very nervous playing in this situation because they got to assemble the stage in record time so it’s not like you’ve rehearsed, it’s fixed, you know what it is, it works. It’s sort of like, let’s throw it together quickly and hope everything works,” he said with a laugh.
“I’m just going to try and turn it into a big club.”
Urban has a long history with country music fans in Calgary, calling Canada a “second home.”
“The Saddledome will always be one of those places in my heart. That was really the first venue where we sold it out.
“I remember being on stage thinking, ‘Gosh, this crowd is amazing. Whoever’s coming on after me is going to love this audience,’ because I was so used to opening to people,” the former American Idol judge said. “And I remember thinking, three songs in, suddenly going, ‘No, we’re it. We’re the act that is on now. They’re all here for us.’
“It was such a vivid memory.”
Urban said he is blessed to be able to play music at the level he is at.
“That’s all I ever wanted to do was keep making records and hopefully people wanted to come see them live. That’s the baseline of it all.”
The four-time Grammy Award and multiple-Country Music Association Award winner was also announced as headliner for the 2020 Country Thunder festival in Calgary.
The Calgary connections continue on Urban’s tenth studio album, Graffiti U, featuring a duet with Calgary-born Lindsay Ell, who also toured with Urban.
CFL crash course
While this isn’t the first time Urban will be playing in Calgary, this will be the first CFL game the New Zealand-born singer-songwriter will attend.
“I’m a complete novice with CFL. I’m going to be diving in, unaware of really any of it.
“We’ve been obviously following a little NFL here in the States since I’ve lived here. And certainly, you know, the hockey as well.
“But yeah, Canadian football is all new to me.”
When asked about his football skills, Urban joked about his musical mastery.
“I probably play football as good as [Hamilton Tiger-Cats player] Brandon Banks plays guitar,” he said.
READ MORE: Grey Cup, teams arrive in Calgary on Tuesday
The 107th Grey Cup kicks off on Sunday at 4 p.m.
– With files from Sue Deyell and Andrew Schultz