CAMP CASEY - Blue lights illuminated the stage and sirens blared as "All Aboard" bellowed from the speakers, but this was no rock concert. It was pure honky tonk ala Montgomery Gentry - the gold and platinum album-producing duo.
Eddie Montgomery, half of the duo that includes Troy Gentry, strode onto the stage wearing his signature black wool bolero hat and black sequined jacket, wildly twirling the microphone and stand, as he strut across the stage whipping the estimated 800 people at Camp Casey's Carey Fitness Center Jan. 25 into a frenzy.
During the 80-minute non-stop party - the Grand Ole Opry inductees sang many of their 20 charted singles about what's important to them - Americana, loves won and lost and more.
"It's awesome to be here with you tonight," Montgomery said to the enthusiastic audience. "Thank you so much for everything you do for us."
Six songs into the 16-lick concert, Brig. Gen. Charles L. Taylor, assistant division commander (maneuver) for the 2nd Infantry Division, took the stage to welcome the group.
"They've been to Iraq and Afghanistan and here they are with us tonight - 11 miles from North Korea," he said to thunderous applause.
"We want to go where you go, where you need us; we want to come and play for you," Montgomery replied.
Taylor and Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Eyer, 2nd Inf. Division senior enlisted advisor, presented the duo with mementos including a football, framed axe and baseball caps.
Montgomery donned the cap and tossed his bolero hat into the audience, where it was caught by Pfc. Terry McClintock, a 2nd Infantry Division military policeman, who chose to work the concert on his scheduled day off.
"I've always been a Toby Keith, Garth Brooks and Montgomery Gentry fan," McClintock said of his prize.
The duo that had opened for Brooks & Dunn and Kenny Chesney early in their career sang all their No. 1 country singles: "Something to Be Proud Of," "Lucky Man," "Back When I Knew It All," "Roll With Me" and "If you Ever Stop Loving Me."
While the audience of primarily Soldiers in their 20s and 30s roared their approval, it was the title track from the self-titled album "My Town" that peaked at No. 5 on the country chart and No. 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 that had them swaying and singing along with the 2000 Country Music Association Duo of the Year. Popular hits "Hell Yeah" and "Long Line of Losers" drew the same response.
The duo figuratively brought the curtain down with an encore riff of the 1975 Kiss anthem, "Rock and Roll All Nite" that would have made Gene Simmons proud. They returned to their hard-charging honky tonk roots to end the performance with their No. 5 smash "Lonely and Gone" from their debut album.
"God bless you," Gentry said before departing. "Thanks for coming out tonight. We'll see you on the flip side."
Pfc. Brock Schmidt, Company C, 304th Signal Battalion at Camp Stanley, who said the group is popular in his hometown of Amarillo, Texas, appreciated the performance.
"It was really good," he said. "It was real motivating to have them here and a good taste of back home."
The concert was part of an 8-day USO and Armed Forces Entertainment tour of South Korea and Japan for the group.