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Concert Reviews:
Brooks & Dunn Bid Fond Farewell To Fans At DTE
 

By GARY GRAFF
of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- Anyone expecting a tearful farewell performance from Brooks & Dunn on Thursday night (July 29) at the DTE Energy Music Theatre had another thing coming.

Packing it in with their Last Rodeo Tour after two decades as country music's most successful duo, Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn let fans keep their Kleenex in their pockets as the celebrated their time together, which includes 30 million records sold and 23 No. 1 country hits. Any of the animosity that's driving them apart was subsumed by a boot-scootin' good time that recalled past glories in an exuberant but understated manner.

There was a bit of pathos -- it was, after all, a country show. But just a bit. Sitting on a stool at the edge of a ramp that extended into the DTE pavilion, Brooks asked the near-capacity crowd, "Have we had some good parties in this place or what?" He quietly thanked the fans "for paying our rent for the last 20 years" and, before playing "Last Rodeo," talked about a champion bull rider pal who told him, "Don't forget to thank the people that gave you that ride...that's what Ronnie and I are doing now."

The group's performance of "Last Rodeo" was accompanied by historical footage of the duo, while Brooks' solo performance of "Lost and Found," as well as an earlier rendition of "You're Gonna Miss Me," took on a bit more emotional heft given their impending split.

Dunn, meanwhile, chose humor for his goodbye speech. Joking that the group was breaking up because he never wore a cowboy hat -- like Brooks -- he rolled up the sleeve of his black shirt to show off a "Cowboy" tattoo from the elbow to writes of his right arm. "Finally, I feel like a cowboy, part of the club," Dunn said with a smirk before launching into "Cowgirls Don't Cry."

The night's real focus was on the music, however. Following opening sets by Gary Allan and 16-year-old Tyler Dickerson -- who sang about soliciting a fake I.D., something the pop world would never allow, say, Justin Bieber to do -- Brooks & Dunn and their 10-piece band, including three female backing vocalists, hit the stage with the appropriate "Play Something Country" and rolled through a string of hits like "You Can't Take the Honky Tonk Out of the Girl," "Mama Don't Get Dressed Up For Nothing," "Hillbilly Deluxe" and a particularly charged "Put a Girl In It."

And with enough hits to fill two shows, Brooks & Dunn treated the crowd to favorites such as "That's What She Gets For Loving Me," "Believe," "Red Dirt Road," "Rock My World Little Country Girl," "My Maria" and "Only in America," for which they brought some military personnel on stage for a salute and shot red, white and blue streamers into the pavilion.

But some of the night's best moments came when the duo dug into its catalog for older selections from their 1991 debut, "Brand New Man." Noting that "Detroit's been with us since day one -- they know the songs better than we do," Brooks threw out "Lost and Found," the final single from the album, while Dunn came with "My Next Broken Heart." In all they played five of the 10 tracks from the album, closing the night with encores of the title track and their first hit, "Boot Scootin' Boogie."

Brooks & Dunn, and even their fans, were dry-eyed as the final bows were taken, and its likely Thursday's show will linger warmly in the memory banks -- and tide fans over until the reunion tour.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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