Brooks & Dunn say goodbye to Boston

A review of Brooks & Dunn, Sara Evans at the Comcast Center on August 13, 2010

, Editor-in-Chief

After nearly 20 years together, Brooks & Dunn are calling it quits but not before saying goodbye and thank you to their fans. On Friday, country’s most legendary duo brought their “Last Rodeo” tour to Massachusetts and bid adieu to their faithful fanbase in New England.

Brooks & Dunn fittingly opened with “Play Something Country”, the first of ten #1 hits included during the 21-song set. Backed by a steady 7-piece band (led by longtime lead guitarist Lou Toomey) and 3 backup singers, Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn kept the show simple. Each trading off lead vocals, the duo brought their own signature flair to the stage.

Brooks, the more animated of the two, worked the stage and most often, the catwalk that jetted out into the center of the crowd. He laced a few tunes with his harmonica playing including “That’s What She Gets For Loving Me” but also took time to sit down with his acoustic guitar to lead “You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone” and “Last Rodeo”, the latter of which featured archived photos and footage of the duo. Brooks was playing to a homecrowd of sorts, explaining that his sister brought along two busloads of friends as well as his Boston-born wife.

Meanwhile, when Brooks was in the spotlight, the more reserved Dunn was more comfortable chilling in the back and playing guitar with the band. He’d then make his way back out to the catwalk for the songs he led, like “Ain’t Nothing ‘Bout You”. Despite being put on vocal rest earlier this summer (which forced the band to postpone the Mansfield show originally scheduled for June) and a now lingering cold, Dunn’s vocals were sharp (though “My Next Broken Heart” was cut short). He also had fun with crowd by explaining the “real reason” for the band’s retirement: “I never got to wear the hat”, referring to Brooks’ signature cowboy hat. Dunn cited all the country stars who have worn a hat and then proclaimed that he recently discovered a way to prove he is a true cowboy by revealing a tattoo with the word “Cowboy” written across his forearm.

Other highlights included the tender “It’s Getting Better All The Time”, the lively “Red Dirt Road” and the soulful “Believe”. A memorable last run through “Neon Moon” (complete with a longhorn disco ball – something to see in itself) sparked a massive sing-along that left Dunn in awe and recalling how he woite the song in his mother’s Oklahoma kitchen. The duo kicked the tempo back up with another old fan favorite in “Rock My World Little Country Girl”, as messages about New England scrolled across the stage. Continuing with the patriotic anthem “Only In America”, the crowd roared with admiration when uniformed members of the military marched on stage as red, white and blue streamers showered over the crowd. The main set ended with the duo’s infamous take on B.W. Stevenson’s “My Maria”.

Brooks & Dunn returned for a two-song encore, first reaching back to their very first single, “Brand New Man” off their 1991 debut album of the same name. Next, the crowd danced away to the finale of “Boot Scootin’ Boogie”. After giving Dunn a high five and tossing his hat in the crowd, Brooks waved to the crowd, saying “Thank You Boston! You’ve been great!”. The feeling was mutual and there is no doubt the duo will be missed. That is, until the inevitable reunion tour.

Opening the show was Sara Evans, who is returning from her own hiatus of sorts. Her 10-song/50-minute set was packed with hits including “As If”, “Born To Fly”, “Suds In The Bucket” and “I Could Not Ask For More”. She also took time to debut her forthcoming single “A Little Bit Stronger”, a great break-up song written by Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum that will be included on the yet-to-be-named album due this fall. The set closed with an oddly country-fried version of Cheap Trick’s “I Want You To Want Me”, which paled in comparison to other covers of the same song, like that of Letters To Cleo.

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