Rob Goes To The Neon Circus

By Rob Greenwell

The Neon Circus & Wild West Show features Chris Cagle, Trick Pony, Gary Allan and Dwight Yoakam with headliners Brooks & Dunn, the only guys who could probably pull such a thing off. This was in Noblesville, Indiana, just about 10 miles outside of Indianapolis at the Verizon Wireless Music Center (formerly known as Deer Creek Amphitheater). The show was complete with a circus-like atmosphere, beginning when the gates opened around 3 p.m., Indy time. There was a little bit of everything, from mechanical bull riding to clowns to face painting - everything you would expect at a country fair or outdoor circus. I liken this to a miniature version of The George Strait Music Festival, with an obvious Southwest feel. All this lasted until about 5:30, when the main acts started on the big stage.

Cledus T. Judd was the emcee for the evening. He started the main show with his latest song, "Breath," a parody of Faith Hill's "Breath." The first act on the stage was Capitol recording artist Chris Cagle. Even though people were still coming into the main stage area throughout his thirty-minute set, he showed a lot of professionalism by just cranking out his music the whole time. He is a definite star in the making, as he both writes and performs, a big plus in the Music City. He had just enough music to fill the time without having to reach into his bag of cover songs to keep things going. He might be a little too rock-n-roll for the older audiences, though I think he's country all the way.

Hitting the stage after Cagle was the electrifying trio Trick Pony. On stage for about thirty-five minutes, they paraded through their three hits: "On a Night Like This," "Pour Me" and the newest single, "It's Just What I Do," along with some other cuts from the album. These three have it all: brains, beauty, attitude, and oh, yeah, Ira, too. It was a jam-packed 35 minutes and we hadn't even gotten to the big boys yet.

The artist that women fall obsessively in love with, MCA recording artist, Gary Allan, was next. Mark my words, this man will be a huge star in our business. He's getting better and better every time he goes out and that's downright scary, as he was already great when he started. I've seen Allan several times and for the most part watched him "become a veteran" nationally. His smooth, bluesy, country, soulful voice is what wins the hearts and minds of many women, though many of them think he's a hunk, too. Of course he played his hits "Her Man" and "Smoke Rings in the Dark," plus adding songs from the new album.

The act in front of Brooks & Dunn was the epitome of honky-tonk: Dwight Yoakam. He did all the hits in his catalogue, including "Guitars, Cadillacs," "Fast as You" and "Honky-Tonk Man." There's nothing fancy about Dwight's shows: just him, some hip shaking for the ladies and good ole honky-tonk country music.

Brooks & Dunn have been doing this for over ten years now and have won awards and acclaim from everywhere. They claimed that they help start the country-dance boom of the early 1990s with the every-lasting, every popular "Boot-Scootin' Boogie." Their catalog of songs is a look at the top of the charts in the 1990s, with the aforementioned "Boot-Scootin'," along with "Neon Moon," "My Maria," "Honky-Tonk Truth," "Brand New Man" and on and on. However, I was really disappointed with their performance on this night. It seems as if something was physically wrong with Ronnie, as he couldn't reach the notes that he normally reaches. He sang the wrong verse on many occasions. He just didn't seem in sync with the rest of the band. It may have been a classic case of "he just didn't have it tonight." Of course, I have high standards for them, as they usually rip it up every time they play.

Nonetheless, they played every song anyone would have expected. They played hits from the beginning of their career to the present, opening with the patriotic hit "Only In America," during which four Marines came out and folded an American flag that had arrived with the show. The crowd went absolutely nuts, as they did during "You're Gonna Miss Me, When I'm Gone," when pictures of Waylon Jennings and Dale Earnhardt's were flashed on the screen.

Even though they didn't put the type of show on they usually do, they gave the crowd their money's worth and that's more than a lot of acts do. I am going to see them when they come to Louisville in August, and I am sure they'll have everything straightened out.