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Old pros strut their stuff in Fargo

Musical groups don't get much hotter or more ubiquitous than Alabama in the 1980s. Energetic tunes such as "The Closer We Get" earned endless playing time on music stations around the country. The band -- county rock to some, country pop to other...

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Musical groups don't get much hotter or more ubiquitous than Alabama in the 1980s.

Energetic tunes such as "The Closer We Get" earned endless playing time on music stations around the country. The band -- county rock to some, country pop to others -- cranked out 21 straight No. 1 hits and won a slew of industry awards.

Those heady days are long gone, but the 'Bama boys can still bring the heat.

On a cold, wet Friday night Alabama gave an estimated 5,000 fans at the Fargodome a brisk, tight show that still packed plenty of professional playfulness.

Among those at the show was Sheri Mosdahl of East Grand Forks, Minn. She had attended 10 or 11 previous Alabama concerts.

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"They always sing their hearts out," she said.

Mosdahl grew up listening to Alabama and its songs still touch her.

"The songs are so genuine. Everyone can relate to them," she said.

Or at least most everyone at Friday's show could recognize. The band was only a few bars into many of its songs when a collective "Hey, I remember that one" ran through the crowd.

You could argue about Alabama's musical identity. Friday's show won't settle the argument. The band moved effortlessly from driving rock to sugary pop to a mostly country tribute to country music's legendary Carter family.

But in the end, trying to label Alabama is pointless. Either its music works for you or it doesn't.

It worked for concert-goers Friday.

Country music today is dominated by a new generation of stars with washboard abs and music that critics dismiss as coming straight from "Country Hits R Us."

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You're more likely to see a cotton field in Casselton than hear that description applied to Alabama.

But as Friday's concert showed, there's still a place for veterans who know and enjoy what they do.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Jonathan Knutson at (701) 241-5530

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