TORONTO - A gig used to be Keith Urban's only annual New Year's Eve tradition — then he married Nicole Kidman, and a new ritual emerged.
"I've certainly had a few where it's been just us with family, or just Nic and I," he recalled down the line from L.A. "We've had a couple of those. Actually, probably, I wonder since I've been married I haven't worked on New Year's Eve? I think that's probably right.
"I think I worked most of the time on New Year's Eve before I was married."
As the 2010s reach middle age on Dec. 31, Urban will be fusing his New Year's Eve traditions by both performing in Niagara Falls, Ont., and spending time with his wife and family, who will make the trip to Canada with him.
Also part of the lineup for "ET Canada's New Year's Eve" on Global are Nick Jonas, electro-pop songwriter Lights and Vine sensation Shawn Mendes.
With the holiday gig approaching, Urban, 47, talked to The Canadian Press about "American Idol," "Symphony for the Devil" and Christmas.
CP: I grew up not that far from Niagara Falls, so probably took it for granted a bit. You were on the other side of the world — were the Falls something that interested you when you were young?
Urban: Yeah. I've been there a couple times — I mean, it's magnificent. But I can relate to what you say. I think that's common for most people to not deeply appreciate where they're raised until they see it from a different perspective. But it's a pretty magical place.
CP: How was celebrating New Year's Eve different at home?
Urban: Well one of the great things growing up in Australia is of course it's summer down there, and New Year's Eve is always an outdoor thing. And specifically Sydney, where I've experienced many New Years, and the fireworks on the water are just spectacular.
CP: Are you familiar with any of the other artists performing with you?
Urban: We love "Jealous," the new Nick Jonas single. Like, totally love that song. I think my wife turned me onto that one recently. Shawn Mendes, I don't know. So that'll be a first for me.
CP: "American Idol" is coming back soon, and you're judging again with Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick, Jr. It must be nice to have some stability there?
Urban: Very. It's much easier to get that groove on and have it be consistent. I really love working with Harry and Jen at the desk. We come at it from different places and yet there's really good synergy.
CP: Do you miss Randy Jackson?
Urban: Yeah. I talk to him occasionally and email him and keep up with where he is. He was in London the last time I emailed him. But you know, I do think that Scott Borchetta coming in has been a tremendous addition to the show and I'm looking forward to this season unfolding live as well.
CP: You were brought out as a special guest at a Rolling Stones concert (in L.A. in 2013). What was the experience like?
Urban: Oh, phenomenal. It's hard to describe that one. Surreal, obviously. I just wish it was a longer song, really. Mick picks a two-and-a-half minute song ("Respectable") and it's like, bummer, I wish we could have chosen "Sympathy for the Devil" or something that's a little bit longer. It was really fun playing with him. I just loved it.
You know, I had met Mick a couple times. My wife and L'Wren Scott had been friends for like 20 years, so that's how Mick and I met, was through my wife and his partner. So the whole thing was quite organic.
The great thing was getting to rehearsals in the afternoon when we were playing at the Staples Center, and there's all the boys up there running through all the songs for the show. Their ferocity, particularly Mick's, it's really matchless. He's one of the great, great frontmen of all time, and to be inches away from him singing on the same mike, was a really surreal experience.
CP: What are your plans for the holiday?
Urban: Really just a family Christmas, nice and quiet here at the house. Nic's mom is going to be joining us this year. My mom and dad were going to be flying in but they had to change their plans, so I probably won't see them till January.
But mostly it's just a nice, simple family Christmas. And then before you know it we'll be landing at Niagara Falls on New Year's Eve for a slightly chilly show. I'm really looking forward to it.
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