OMAHA, Neb. — Don’t let the jeans and cowboy hats fool you.
Brooks & Dunn know how to rock.
At first, it seems odd that a band synonymous with rock music would invite a country group to open for them. But after listening to the chart-topping country duo’s 45-minute set at Sunday’s (Jan. 29) sold-out Rolling Stones concert at the Qwest Center Omaha, it’s clear that the pairing of Brooks & Dunn and the Stones is a combination that works.
Brooks & Dunn kicked off the night with a rousing version of “Red Dirt Road,” which prompted a group of fans near the front of the stage to rise to their feet, dance and clap along to the music.
While many concertgoers were still finding their seats, Brooks & Dunn — accompanied by an eight-piece band and three backing singers — followed that first song with an upbeat “You Can’t Take the Honky Tonk Out of the Girl.”
As more fans filed into the arena, the duo fired off a string of hits even non-country music fans could appreciate, especially since some featured electric guitar solos.
There were solid renditions of “Ain’t Nothing ’Bout You” and “She’s Not the Cheatin’ Kind.” There was the lovely, lonesome “Neon Moon,” which proved to be a crowd pleaser, evoking loud cheers and applause.
“That’s pretty good for a Rolling Stones concert,” Ronnie Dunn said. “Maybe we’re crossing over.”
While Dunn sang lead on most of the songs, Kix Brooks — wearing a black cowboy hat and Western shirt — handled vocal duties on “Mama Don’t Get Dressed Up for Nothing.”
During that song, Dunn — clad in jeans, a white shirt and brown jacket — banged a cowbell and tossed about a half-dozen drumsticks into the sea of fans.
Thankfully, no one’s eye was put out.
During “Brand New Man,” the lyric “Oh how I used to roam, I was a rolling stone” generated huge cheers from the audience.
The crowd’s energy continued to rise during lively performances of “Play Something Country” and “Boot Scootin’ Boogie.”
“Sing it if you know it,” Dunn told the crowd.
Most didn’t but danced nonetheless.
Before launching into the final song of their set, “My Maria,” Dunn told the audience he was “awfully proud” to share the stage with the Rolling Stones.
The 16,000 fans at the sold-out show paid as much as $350 each for premium seats to see the Stones, who offered a hit-filled set that lasted almost two hours. While Brooks & Dunn didn’t win everyone over, it’s a good bet the duo gained some new fans with the entertaining set they delivered.
Niz Proskocil is pop music writer for the Omaha-World Herald.