Reba, Brooks & Dunn
At a Glance
What is it?
A headlining stint by country superstars Reba McEntire and the reunited duo of Brooks & Dunn.
Where is it?
At the 4,000-seat Colosseum at Caesars Palace on the Center Strip.
Is it worth the cost?
If you are a fan of country music, then yes.
Why should I see this show?
Because you don’t get a chance to see singers of this caliber very often.
What else do I need to know?
The show will play for at least 24 dates a year for two years, so it doesn’t play every weekend.
What’s the bottom line?
Country music fans should buy their tickets now.
I should state for the record that I am not a fan of country music. I don’t actively dislike the genre, but I have just never paid that much attention to it. Still, even with that limitation, I know who Reba McEntire and Brooks & Dunn are and even know a few of their songs, so I wasn’t walking into their residency show at Caesars Palace completely blind.
If you are, here’s a primer: Reba is a bit of a legend, having released more than two dozen albums since the 1970s that have generated 40 number one singles and more than 85 million copies sold worldwide. She’s also an actress with a long-running sitcom and Broadway stints under her belt.
Brooks & Dunn released a dozen albums, have had 20 number one singles, and toured relentlessly until they “retired” in 2009. They have reunited for this series of shows with Reba in Las Vegas, but this is not the first time the three of them have performed together in a big concert production.
The concept of this show is fairly simple – the three appear together to collaborate on a few songs from each other’s catalogues, then Reba does a few of her songs, and then Brooks & Dunn do a few of theirs, and then they join forces again.
The set list is a greatest hits package with Reba doing full or medley versions of songs like “Little Rock,” “The Last One to Know,” “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia,” “Fancy,” and “Why Haven’t I Heard From You,” while Brooks & Dunn riff through “Neon Moon,” “Boot Scootin’ Boogie,” “My Maria,” “Brand New Man,” and more. And of course they perform their collaboration “If You See Him/If You See Her” from 1998.
If you’re a fan of the music, it probably doesn’t get much better than this. The threesome sounds terrific, together or by themselves, and the songs are about as classic country as you can get. And there is a lot of it. While the show may change as they settle into it, the version I saw was over two hours long.
The trouble with the show, from my viewpoint, is that it focuses perhaps a little too heavily on the music and not enough on the personalities. Reba has proven herself to be charming and personable, but here she spends very little time chatting up a connection with the audience. For their part, Brooks & Dunn, who were reportedly never terribly close, barely interact with each other. What you are left with is someone singing to the center of the audience, then walking across the stage to left side to sing to them, and then to the right side to sing to those folks, and then back to the center again. There may be a few words in between songs and a little interplay when the three of them are on stage together, but for the most part it’s song after song after song and for someone like me, who might not have a deep appreciation for the genre, it got a little boring.
The staging was fairly static as well. There are large metal arches that sort of float in and out to make the huge stage a little more intimate on quieter songs and the big LED screen in the back, used to great effect in other artists’ residencies, is either generic wallpaper or completely dark.
I also noticed some trouble with the sound mixing – it was too heavy on the bass and a little out of sync with some echoes from the open drum kit. I saw the show fairly early in its run so maybe this is something they will work out over time.
Ultimately if you are fans of the artists or country music in general, this is like a master class taught by some of the best professors in the business. I just wish there was a little more energy and personality built into this particular lesson.