I thought I could handle the Brooks & Dunn Last Rodeo show I saw last night (Aug. 8) in Chicago. I thought I’d seen them in concert enough that I’d be a bit cavalier about the whole thing and not get swept up in the emotions that come with the realization that this is it. The last time they will saunter down that catwalk. The last time Ronnie Dunn will bring out the “Neon Moon” guitar. The end of an era. But I was so, so wrong about keeping my cool. I was a mess.
And here’s why. I expected that I’d be watching the show from a seat, where I could see their faces and watch Kix Brooks charm the audience while Dunn strolled nonchalantly. But I had a pass to watch the show from the side of the stage. So for two entire hours, I watched Brooks & Dunn from behind Brooks & Dunn. And you know what that means? I saw what they saw. Roughly 25,000 people riding an emotional rollercoaster. Euphoria when songs like “Play Something Country” and “Brand New Man” were up. Then super weepy-eyed fans when they did “Cowgirls Don’t Cry” and “How Long Gone.” Video footage showed them going from rookies to superstars, along with clips of Billboard charts as they hit the top of the list over and over again.
At the very end, they left everyone on a high note with “Boot Scootin’ Boogie.” I remember when I had no idea who Brooks & Dunn even were. I was watching some country awards show in the mid-1990s, hoping Garth Brooks would win it all. I saw the duo win an award and thought, “Why are Hall & Oates on a country awards show?” Now, obviously, I know full well who they are. They can go ahead and move on, but I will never forget the joy their music brought to my life.