Merle Haggard once asked Kix Brooks why The Last Rodeo had to be the last. “We had him out for the last two weeks of our tour, which was a big honor for us,” Brooks said last week throughout a round-table media session at Caesars Palace. “We were resting on his bus in Woodstock in New York, watching out at this sold-out crowd, and he stated, ‘Damn, Kix, exactly what are you doing?’ I said, ‘What do you suggest?’ And he said, ‘Take a look at all those people. Why would you want to leave this?'”
This remained in 2010, on the last leg of exactly what was to be the last tour headlined by Brooks & & Dunn, a duo that debuted in 1990 and had delighted in more success than they ‘d ever imagined. Which resulted in Brooks’ answer to Haggard’s questions.
“I stated, ‘Damn, Merle. I loved Pancho & & Lefty,” Brooks said, referring to the 1983 album recorded by Haggard and Willie Nelson. “You and Willie did one freakin’ album and stop! Ronnie and I made it Twenty Years! Are you kidding me?”
Today, Brooks & & Dunn are refrained. They are now two-thirds of a trio headlining the Colosseum, in addition to nation legend Reba McEntire. The table-setting title of this production, Reba and Brooks & & Dunn: Together in Vegas makes the point clear: These are stars of equivalent billing sharing a phase on the Strip. The triune launched its residency on June 17, with shows continuing this month, in early July once more in mid-December.
It’s a reintroduction to Las Vegas for all 3 super stars. Reba debuted in the city in the mid-1980s, opening for Roy Clarke at Caesars Palace’s Circus Maximus. Brooks & & Dunn also played that space, and in 2006 all 3 played the Las Vegas Hilton, though the dates staggered, with Reba playing spring and summer gigs that year and Brooks & & Dunn carrying out in December.
As the return to Vegas has already suggested, the Reba and Brooks & & Dunn residency is an exercise in entertainment, education and lighting. From the opening weekend, we found:
The trio are still impressed at having their images grace marquees ignoring the Strip. “We were hanging our heads out the window, taking photos of the sign outside,” Ronnie Dunn stated. “We were hoping we ‘d strike a red light so we might fire off enough shots.”
The setlist went through multiple variations before landing on the 30 songs played at the Colosseum. The secret was to ask, “Which ones do I want to sing among my own songs?” McEntire discussed. “I picked out my favorites, and they picked out their favorites, and we put them together.” Brooks included, “Ronnie and I had actually assembled an excellent hour and a half or more of simply great songs we might agree on, on our own, and cut that in half. So we’re playing a great deal of collections, mashing up a few of those songs, which was something we truly had not done before.”
Hence, the list draws a high quality of hits from both acts, like “Play Something Nation,” “Boot Scootin’ Boogie,” “Why Have not I Heard From You?” “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia,” “You Lie,” “You’re Gon na Miss Me When I’m Gone,” “Ain’t Absolutely nothing ‘Bout You” and “Only in America.”
Brooks & & Dunn get on simply great. Many music observers, Elton John amongst them, have actually questioned if these people simply don’t mix well (Elton has joked onstage at the Colosseum that Reba was enhanced the act because the other 2 don’t speak with each other). But that does not appear to be the case. “There’s no rift,” Brooks stated. “We simply stopped performing since there had not been anything left for us to achieve.” Echoed Dunn, “We figured we ‘d done it all.”
Reba is mostly liable for the early success of Brooks & & Dunn, and also for this residency. The three visited together in 1993-94 and again in 1997-98. “She was the very first person who really took us on trip,” Brooks stated. “We were working for her, however there wasn’t any, ‘Do not look me in the eye,” stuff going on.” At which point Dunn stepped in and stated, “We did need to break through the star curve, the vanity thing …” And Reba fired back with, “I am gon na beat the tar from you! He teems with it!”
Reba was the very first star to invite the duo to heading a significant U.S. trip, was the first to welcome them on a personal jet and was the first to offer a raise– unsolicited– during that trip. “She pertained to our dressing room and said, ‘We believe you’re fixin’ to have a real big profession and we want to be buddies.”
As for the go back to Vegas, Dunn said, “I don’t believe we ‘d be performing together if it just weren’t for this residency, and if it just weren’t for Reba.”
Reba, Brooks & & Dunn Next shows June 26 & & 27, July 1, 3 & 4; 7:30 p.m.; $60-$205. Colosseum, 866-227-5938.