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Brooks & Dunn Memory Town

Review: Aug. 28, 2004
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Brooks and Dunn

Brooks and Dunn came to town this year without their Neon Circus gimmick of the past three years, and it was a welcome change.

The hit-making duo lengthened their own set, featured two strong opening acts and left a big crowd at UMB Bank Pavilion on Friday night happy to have heard from all three performers. And no one seemed to miss the stilt-walkers and jugglers of the past three years.

B&D, who have been at the top of the country charts for more than a decade, put on a polished 18-song set of hits like "She's Not the Cheating Kind," "Red Dirt Road" and "Neon Moon." Kix Brooks, always the crowd favorite, endeared himself even further by showing a video of a donkey race he got involved in at the Indiana State Fair that ends with him wrecking. Rehearsed? Maybe. But the crowd loved it and the banter was genuine.

Nearly all of B & D's set was devoted to past hits although they did deliver their current single, "That's What It's All About," while the two giant video screens onstage showed photos and video of the men with their wives and children, to a big "awww!" factor.

Ronnie Dunn's fine tenor soars on songs like "My Maria" and "That's What She Gets for Loving Me" while Brooks reaches his own heights with lead vocals on "You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone." But they are at their best when they combine on crowd pleasers and audience-participation songs like "Rock My World (Little Country Girl.)"

The one-song encore, "Only in America," brought out three Marines in dress blues, much like last year, to a big ovation from the crowd.

There wasn't much new in the Red Dirt Road tour, but it's so well-packaged and polished that no one minds. Brooks and Dunn are at the top for a reason.

Montgomery Gentry and Gretchen Wilson, the Pocahontas, Ill., native, opened the show. Wilson got the biggest response I've seen for an opener for her nine-song set, which included her monster hits "Redneck Woman" and "I'm Here for the Party." She also did a couple of ballads from her debut album, including a strong effort called "His Side of the Bed." She's a singer who will be going places in the next few years.

Montgomery Gentry's 14-song set delivered to the duo's core supporters: the hard-core partiers and bad boys. Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry's vocals are decent on songs like "She Couldn't Change Me" and "My Town," but Montgomery's non-stop microphone stand twirling is distracting. Baton Bob, he's not.

Hits like "Speed" and "All Night Long" got big ovations and fired up a crowd that needed little urging to raise a little hell. Mongtomery Gentry isn't every country fan's taste, but they give their biggest fans exactly what they expect.