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Brooks & Dunn rock it in "country" show

Roanoke, Va. Civic Center, May 14, 1998

By Tom Netherland

ROANOKE, VA. - Forget the cowboy hats and boots, Wranglers and western shirts: country music was all but absent during Brooks & Dunn's appearance at the Roanoke, Va. Civic Center. Despite yelps and yee-ha's, the near sell-out crowd of about 8,000 could just have easily been attending a rock show by their favorite guitar band from the 1970's.

Not that any of that is bad. If Brooks & Dunn - country music's all-time best-selling duo - are anything, they are entertaining. It's just that what they offer bears little resemblance to country.

Billed as "Brooks & Dunn's Tailgate Party," country's dynamic duo leaped from the bed of a faux pickup truck that, throughout the show, housed most of their crack seven-man band. Each clad in black, Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn sped through seven years of hits, beginning with 1993's "We'll Burn That Bridge."

A CBS-TV camera crew was on hand to film segments of the concert to be aired later in conjunction with Nascar's 50th anniversary season. In keeping with the occasion, Brooks & Dunn, occasional participants in the Legends Racing Series, welcomed 7-time Nascar Winston Cup Champion Dale Earnhardt to the stage amid boisterous applause and a smattering of boos. Earnhardt, the winner of this year's Daytona 500, remarked: "I hope you enjoy these guys (Brooks & Dunn) as much as I do."

As evidenced from the screams and cheers, no doubt they did.

B&D's scant 80-minute set re-convened with Dunn and that oh-so-wonderfully resonant voice with "He's Got You" and, the show's highlight, "My Maria." Dunn's voice gets lost in the bombast of their act. Yet, given the chance, as with "My Maria" and later with "Brand New Man," it proves to be the duo's finest instrument.

Before unveiling several new tunes, Dunn said "We've never before played songs on cds before they came out," as he slowly walked their sizable stage. "We're gonna throw two out at that okay?" Of course, the crowd applauded, and surprisingly cheered even louder as B&D worked their way through "How Long Gone, Gone Really Means" and "Love Don't Take A Back Seat To Nothing." The former, sounding like a future hit, contained Dunn's usual fine vocals and an irresistibly infectious guitar melody from Brooks.

Inflatable cowboy boots accompanied the duo's run through "Boot Scootin' Boogie," the tune that broke their career wide open in 1992. Ear-splitting takes on the Grammy-winning "Hard Workin' Man" and "Rock My World (Little Country Girl)" seemingly clash with the hyper honky-tonk duo's being so heavily awarded and, to be honest, accepted, in the country industry.

Energetic opener, Canadian Terri Clark, rarely slowed to below an emphatically uptempo pace. Interspersed between hits "If I Were You" and "Better Things To Do," Clark looked forward to a couple of tunes, "Everything" and current chart riser "Now That I've Found You," from her disc due May 19.

Rounding out her sweaty, breathless act, Clark incited the crowd to their feet with "When Boy Meets Girl" and "Poor, Poor Pitiful Me." Barely country though quite captivating, Clark's 45-minute jaunt concluded with an encore performance of "Stay With Me," originally a rock hit in 1972 for Rod Stewart and The Faces.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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