concert reviews

Brooks & Dunn and Alan Jackson at Nissan Pavilion, Bristow, VA, Sunday 10 June 2007

While Brooks & Dunn and Alan Jackson entertained the Nissan Pavilion crowd on Sunday night by trotting out their hits, the two acts had wildly different styles.

Brooks & Dunn's opening set emphasized the duo's raucous energy and rock-flavored songs, from the howling "Hillbilly Deluxe" to the predictably patriotic "Only in America." A few slower ballads showcased Ronnie Dunn's swoon-inducing voice (his a cappella ending to "Neon Moon" was surprisingly robust), but those calmer moments were regrettably rare in the hour-long set.

By contrast, Jackson delivered a more sedate performance, barely moving as he crooned his elegant numbers. Lyrics that touched upon rowdier moments ("It's Five O'Clock Somewhere," "Chattahoochee") were tempered with a restraint that relied more on his twangy voice than a showy presentation.

Even the women in their songs came from different sides of the tracks: Brooks & Dunn highlighted sexy women who brazenly ask for what they want -- "Rock My World (Little Country Girl)," "Play Something Country" -- while Jackson paid tribute to a deeper love, rather than lust. The tender ballad "Remember When" and the serene "Like Red on a Rose" each reflected the affections shown in the family videos projected behind him.

The performers' styles collided during the encore, when Brooks & Dunn joined Jackson for a rendition of "Big Boss Man." Kix Brooks's blazing harmonica and growling vocals balanced Jackson's more staid delivery, showing that perhaps their approaches work best when blended together.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post, 12 June 2007; Page C05
.: Selected discography: Like Red on a Rose (Alan Jackson, 2006); What I Do (Alan Jackson, 2004); Don't Rock the Jukebox (Alan Jackson, 1991); Hillbilly Deluxe (Brooks & Dunn, 2005); Red Dirt Road (Brooks & Dunn, 2003).