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Review: Feb 13, 2005

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Brooks, Dunn show how country's done
Hot duo treats Turning Stone crowd to songs from patriotic to honky-tonk.
 
Sunday, February 13, 2005
By Mark Bialczak
Staff Writer

Verona - With one last patriotic burst, country stars Brooks and Dunn drove home the point to the screaming crowd Saturday night at the sold-out Turning Stone Resort and Casino Event Center.

As Kix Brooks, Ronnie Dunn and their rollicking eight-piece band kicked up to their mega-hit "Only in America," red, white and blue streamers shot out of confetti cannons to drape their fans. Three uniformed Marines marched to the center of the stage to smartly salute the crowd.

There wasn't a fanny left in a seat and hardly a fist that wasn't pumping into the air.

These guys sure know how to have a good time. They crowded the stage with as many props and electronic gizmos that could possibly fit. There were 20 state road signs. There were four video screens. There was the flashing-lighted wide set of trademark steer horns that rose above the stage.

Brooks and Dunn might win a Grammy Award tonight in Los Angeles for best country performance by a duo or vocal. So they started the show off with the song that earned that nomination, the hearty "You Can't Take the Honky Tonk Out of the Girl."

From there, the pair led a spirited parade through 20 hits that have kept them on top of the country music heap since they released their debut disc "Brand New Man" in 1991.

Tall guy Dunn sang rich and deep. Dressed in a black leather shirt and black jeans, his stand-up hair style was left free to bounce with his moves.

Shorter guy Brooks raced around the stage to fire out wicked guitar and cool harmonica riffs. Dressed in a knee-length black coat and blue jeans, his black cowboy hat hid his kinky black curls - until he took off the hat and tossed it into the crowd.

To think that all of this almost didn't happen.

"I woke up this morning and I could hardly talk," Dunn told the crowd at one point. "Some doctor around here is pretty good."

Thanks, Doc.

Dunn's voice sounded as golden forever as he sang lead on so many beautiful songs, especially the sad but hopeful romantic hit "Neon Moon."

"Monday is Valentine's Day," he said. "I have it branded right here," he continued, patting the side of his upper leg. "The last two years I was out on the road touring like this, and I forgot it. She got mad."

But by the way he went on to sing the gorgeous "That's What She Gets for Loving Me" you can tell he indeed learned his lesson.

They followed that up with the even prettier "That's What It's All About," while cute snapshots of the stars with their wives and children were flashed on the video screens.

Brooks took his turn at the microphone first, and he reminded everybody that life can be pretty darned funny.

"At the fair in Indianapolis, I got challenged to a donkey race. You want to see the footage," Brooks asked the crowd.

And there he was, on top of a carriage being pulled on a horse racetrack by a donkey. It looked like he won, even. But then he tried to stop his donkey, who had a mind of its own. The donkey sent the country star careening off the track and into a horse, who got mad and stomped.

"If getting my butt kicked by a two-foot donkey isn't bad enough, but you laughing at me really hurts," he told the crowd.

Then it was back to the sweet music.

All the hits sounded great, from the wonderful ballad "She's Not the Cheating Kind" to the rolling "Brand New Man" and "Hard Workin' Man" to the funky "My Maria" to the travelogue "Red Dirt Road."

For "Rock My World (Little Country Girl)" two sky-high balloons inflated, two cowgirls bucking on the mechanical bull. The crowd roared in appreciation.

But it was the music that was the best part. Brooks and Dunn make every song they release sound like pure platinum, be it a sensitive ballad or rowdy rocker. Their star power is reminiscent of the Eagles in the mid-'70s, when Don Henley and Glenn Frey got the country rocking to "Hotel California" and crooning to "The New Kid in Town" at practically the same moment.

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