It is always a somewhat sad occasion when someone at the top of their game calls it a day. I am reminded of Seinfeld, Barry Sanders, and Jim Brown to name a few. Sadly, you can add the super-duo Brooks & Dunn to that list.
Last Friday night, Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn bid farewell to a sold out BOK Center audience. They saddled up one last time to ride the concert experience that is Brooks & Dunn, and did it in grand style for over 2 hours.
The duo, who has been going strong for 20 years, flew through all of their biggest hits and told some great stories of life together on the road.
Along for the ride were Tyler Dickerson and Jason Aldean.
Dickerson, a teen that packs a wallop, started up the night with energy and youth that set the tone for what may be coming in country music for years to come. Strong vocals and good stage presence that can only be polished up and matured and will turn some heads.
Jason Aldean was up next. Aldean, who has been tearing up the charts with his brand of classic current country music, was a little too stoic. Not a lot of frills just straight ahead, let it rip tunes. Light on showmanship, heavy on guitar and vocals.
The night obviously was meant to, and did belong to headliners and legends, Brooks and Dunn. The duo shot onto the scene back in 1990 and has not slowed down since. Winning every major industry award and millions and millions of fans over the years.
The stage is set with their trademark steer head logo on a huge orange curtain hiding the stage. Above is an oversize steer head wrapped with barbed wire and flanked by the words, "Last Rodeo." It is a big stage, that is a little obstructed by speakers so that some of the seating was a little less than coveted. (My seat was unobstructed through.)
As to be expected, there is a wide age range for this show and lots of things to see in the crowd. From older folks dressed in Sunday best to loads of ladies in sundresses and cowboy boots to the jock and prep types just out to enjoy the music and night. It had it all, it is as if B&D music transcends genre boundaries and offers something up for all kinds of music fans.
As the lights go out, the large curtain begins to rise and show off the band settling in for the evening as slowly the act of the night make their way onstage to kick off "The Last Rodeo." They immediately flow into one of their 23 number 1 hits, "Play Something Country" and we are off and running on a night of memories and tales that will have us laughing, thinking and maybe even have some tears shed. Kix and Ronnie share their time between lead vocals on songs and are met with great ovation for each. With 20 years of songs in the game plan there is no shortage of material to offer up. Classic hits like "Hard Workin’ Man," "She Ain’t The Cheatin’ Kind," and "You’re Gonna Miss Me (When I’m Gone)" flowed together with more contemporary songs "Ain’t Nothin’ Bout You," "Cowgirls Don’t Cry," and "Last Rodeo." The last of which Brooks did while seated on the catwalk of the stage with the backdrop of a historical video montage of the groups past and some of their early solo days.
During this time Kix told a story about his coming home late one night after partying with his buddies. Sneaking into the house and quietly sliding into the bed only to realize that his wife wasn’t there. She too had been out that night and hadn’t quite called it an evening. Telling that this was the story behind the hit "Lost and Found" one of the handful of songs that Brooks takes over lead vocals on this night.
This show was a bit of a homecoming for Ronnie Dunn, who cut his teeth in town playing honky tonks in Tulsa. "It’s been 20 years in this run with Brooks and Dunn, but it’s been a lot longer with Tulsa. There’s nowhere I’d rather be right now than right here," Dunn said.
It was easy to see there was so emotion in both of these performers, and for good reason, this would be the last time they would play Tulsa as a duo.
As the evening came to a close, the group came out to encore their very first #1 as a duo, "Brand New Man" as well as tackling the T-Town mainstay "Tulsa Time" funny thing about this was Ronnie Dunn needed a cheat sheet with the lyrics but still shined with a little help from Jason Aldean joining him onstage. The show wrapped with what was probably their biggest hit inspired by former Tulsa Honky Tonk, Tulsa City Limits, "Boot Scootin’ Boogie."
Photos by: Kevin Pyle
The night was one that they didn’t want to end and the crowd wished would have gone on longer. None-the-less, it was time for them to ride off into the sunset like western heroes do. Farewell, fellas. Thanks for the ride.