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In Pictures: Keith Urban fans get real close

EDMONTON - He may have charmed 3,000 Edmonton fans with a free mini-concert at one of the world's largest shopping malls, but country-pop superstar Keith Urban also might have landed one teenager in a spot of trouble when he got home.

EDMONTON - He may have charmed 3,000 Edmonton fans with a free mini-concert at one of the world's largest shopping malls, but country-pop superstar Keith Urban also might have landed one teenager in a spot of trouble when he got home.

Just a few numbers into his seven-song set, Urban couldn't help but spot an excited Mitchell Lavigne, 17, waving his arms and shouting, "Keith, I want to kiss a girl!" — a reference to Urban's song "Kiss A Girl."

The shaggy-haired Aussie told the Justin Bieber-look-alike to come up on stage and invited him to perform a duet, even allowing Lavigne a high-pitched, cringe-inducing failed attempt at hitting the big notes, prompting gales of audience laughter.

Lavigne couldn't compete vocally, but he held his own on the humour front by informing the crowd that Urban had "very good-smelling breath" during their up-close-and-personal moment at the mike.

"I can't believe they let that happen," an ecstatic Lavigne said after the concert. "I feel bad because I'm a terrible singer, but it was amazing."

His biggest problem was that Urban unintentionally outed him — Lavigne's mom had told him it was OK to go to the 6 p.m. concert so long as he didn't skip school in their hometown of Devon, just west of Edmonton.

But that's exactly what Lavigne did, arriving at the mall at 9 a.m. to make sure he got close to the makeshift stage on the ice rink at West Edmonton Mall.

He figured his mom might forgive him, though — she's as big a fan of Urban's as he is.

Lavigne wasn't even the first to arrive; fans started lining up about 12 hours before Urban took the stage in an appearance to promote his new album, "Get Closer."

Urban has called it a musical love-letter to his wife, actress Nicole Kidman, who did not accompany him to Edmonton, and said making the record was the most fun he has ever had in the studio.

But though the CDs could be purchased at the show for $10, Urban made sure to branch out with his performance, mixing up new stuff with some old favourites and even covers of songs by Johnny Cash and the Steve Miller Band.

He also sat down to write autographs for the first 200 fans who lined up for the show.

"Right from the very beginning, Canada has been immensely supportive of what I do and really gets the music," he said. "I could tell that the first time we toured here."

Urban was on the Oprah Winfrey Show earlier in the week where he credited Kidman for saving his life when she stuck by him as he struggled with addictions to alcohol and cocaine. She was part of an intervention that led him to take another stab at rehab.

Urban told Oprah that Kidman should have walked away from him but didn't. He says he's been clean for four years now. The couple had a daughter together in 2008 who they named Sunday Rose.

The country star has been on a blitz to promote the new album.

Aside from his appearance on Oprah, which he made with his wife, he performed at halftime of the Dallas-New Orleans National Football League game in Texas on American Thanksgiving Day.

Earlier this month, he put on a surprise show for passengers at New York's Penn Station before boarding a train to Philadelphia where he performed another show.

He also did a free show outside a Dallas taco restaurant on the night before the football game.

In Edmonton, he joked "there were four people here" for his last free concert at the mall in 2001 — before he became famous in North America.

Although more turned out this time, it was still an intimate affair. The front row of fans stood within arm's reach of Urban, who played with no backing band, just a drum machine and an acoustic guitar.

Urban plans to tour the album in 2011 with nine stops in Canada — Ottawa, Toronto, London, Ont., Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver.

 
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