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Review: Oct. 4, 2004
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Concert Review: Brooks & Dunn
Mon Oct 4, 2004 08:42 PM ET
 
By Darryl Morden 

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Newcomer Gretchen Wilson's hit song "Here for the Party" pretty much summed up Friday's night's concert at the Hyundai Pavilion headlined by Brooks & Dunn and featuring Montgomery Gentry.

After almost 14 years of hit making, B&D are veterans who know how to put on an entertaining show. The team's not big on gimmicks either, except for a stage decorated in state highway signs and fencing, plus a massive lit-up metal longhorn skull that appeared in the front of the curtain before they took the stage.

The duo kicked off with "You Can't Take the Honky Tonk Out of the Girl," lifted from the Rolling Stones' "Honky Tonk Woman" but a catchy, swaggering rocker nonetheless. As with most mainstream country shows, it was all about hits, and they kept going with the pop-tinged "Ain't Nothin' About You" and the harmony-enriched title track from their 1991 debut album, "Brand New Man."

As usual, tall, lean and bearded Ronnie Dunn was the straight man while mustachioed Kix Brooks, in his cowboy hat, took the wisecracking, comic victim role, showing a film clip where he won a donkey cart race, only to go crashing into a horse and wagon.

While they'll never go down in country annals like Hank, Merle or their hero, Johnny Cash, the pair can craft a hook or mine one by other writers. The material might not have depth, but it still strikes a chord and taps into the sentiments of their core working-class audience.

Some sentimental but not too squishy numbers like "Mama Don't Get Dressed Up for Nothing" balanced the saloon-rocking stuff. Best among those ballads was the older "Neon Moon," which sounded like a Drifters song, dressed up in weepy pedal steel and sung with a touch of bittersweet heartbreak twang.

Brooks & Dunn come off as deep thinkers compared with second-billed duo Montgomery Gentry. Just contrast the genuine homespun memories of the former's "Red Dirt Road" with the latter's cliche-strewn and bragging "My Town."

Guitar-strumming Troy Gentry had a jock-turned-model look, while partner Eddie Montgomery, clad in a black caballero hat and long coat, was the good ol' boy, twirling his mike stand like a walking stick. The grinning big lugs worked the stage well and got all the women hollerin', but their brand of redneck Southern rock, with some heavy metal touches on guitars, was heavy-handed.

In her opening spot, Wilson proved to be the rowdy, likable girl next door. Her smash "Redneck Woman" brought a loud response from the crowd on its "Hell, yeah!" refrain, but a cover of Heart's late-'70s rock hit "Straight On" seemed way out of place.

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