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Come On Over Concert Reviews

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SHANIA MANIA HITS SUDBURY
Sudbury, ON - Sudbury Arena
 
SUDBURY -- The baton has officially been passed from country music king to queen.
 
Taking a major page out of Garth Brook's live show handbook -- think rock 'n' roll -- Shania Twain launched her first-ever world tour last night before a close-to-hometown crowd of 5'000 at the Sudbury Arena.
 
Twain's slickly-produced, tightly-choreographed concert-- which will make its way to the Molson Amphitheatre on August 7 and 8 -- was bolstered and buffed up by so many components that it was almost out of hand.
 
There was big sound, laser lights, rotating stages, conveyer belts, video screens, fireworks, an accomplished and animated nine-piece band, a local high school choir, the step-dancing of opening act Leahy, and oh, let's not forget, one eye-popping pair of black vinyl pants that literally looked painted on.
 
At the centre of it all was the sultry Twain, the best-selling female country singer in history, who weathered criticism by waiting three years to tour despite her 1995 breakthrough The Woman In Me selling 13 miliion copies worldwide.
 
The cynics said it was because Twain, raised in nearby Timmins, couldn't sing or hold her own on a stage, particularly without the help of her husband and collaborator, rock producer Mutt Lange.
 
(Lange, by the way, was actually working the sound board last night. For the record, he's blond, tanned, and good looking.)
 
And while Twain won't be challenging Pavarotti to a sing-off anytime soon, her utility vocals more than held her own, even if she should be encouraged to move a little more around her expensive-looking stage.
 
What didn't take any encouragement was wearing clothes -- of her own design -- that accentuated her lithe form.
 
Initially, decked out in a midriff baring costume -- black leather vest, sparkly green crop top, and matching black pants -- Twain waited an hour before changing into the aforementioned vinyl pants accompanied by what appeared to be a white sports bra and fuchsia vinyl vest. Let's just say the concert opener Man! I Feel Like A Woman! more than applied to this outfit.
 
Meanwhile, the 22-song set list that stretched just under two hours was made up primarily of songs from The Woman In Me and 1997's Come On Over.
 
Highlights included I Won't Leave You Lonely, as Twain and her band individually rotated on stage, Love Gets Me Every Time and Any Man Of Mine, which finally had people out of their seats and dancing in the aisles, and Leahy's step-dancing moves during Don't Be Stupid (You Know I Love You).
 
Twain's three lively fiddle players should also be singled out for their performances, particularly Canadian Cory Churko, whose interaction with Twain during Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under? suggested he may become the breakout backup musician.
 
Twain also probed to be big on audience participation. For I'm Holding On To Love (To Save My Life), she plucked two young girls out of the audience to take over on lead vocals.
 
``That's fantastic, she knew everyword,'' said Twain afterwards.
 
``That's why I do this.''
 
Later a local choir joined Twain on stage for God Bless The Child and local karaoke contest winner Suzanne Nault sang Twain's old song What Made You Say That entirely on her own.
 
But the bits didn't always work.
 
Twain joked that she knew ``half the audience,'' and shone a light into the crowd.
 
She also got a local woman to draw some tickets so that a few people sitting in the very back row on the floor could come sit in the front row.
 
As the tour progresses, expect Twain to fine-tune and make adjustments.
 
She plays a second show in Sudbury tomorrow night before heading out to Western Canada and then tackling the US.
 
 
 
TWAIN'S WORLD
Edmonton, AB - Edmonton Coliseum
 
I think we've found a new leader for the Spice Girls.
 
Hear me out.
 
Shania Twain took the Coliseum by storm last night and if ever there was a demonstration of Girl Power! here (Woman Power!, in Twain's case), this was it.
 
It was a full house and she was the queen, waving like one all night and never letting her smile waver.
 
Nearly 17,000 peop and country fans watched in awe as Canada's ironic dominatrix of America's Nashville made the gals rock and the guys blush. I could write a whole article about her leather pants, but this is a family newspaper.
 
But beyond the flash, so prevalant in modern country, Shania's got such ear-catching songs and an unbeatable voice that you almost wonder if she's some experiment sent back in time from the future to taunt us. She may not be exactly country as Hank Williams saw it, but I bet he wouldn't mind looking.
 
Twain of Timmins, Ont., started off with a blanket covering of her catchy new album, Come On Over, and the concert's highlights came from that catalogue. Heart-wrenchers like I Won't Leave You Lonely and especially Whem, such a fine song, nestled in the bosom of tunes like Don't Be Stupid, Come On Over, and Man! I Feel Like a Woman.
 
Still, the thing that really struck you about the show, besides the Stanley Cup playoff-level of noise, was how well produced and clear the music actually was.
 
Kudos to the tech guys.
 
Other Shania standards, like Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under, Any Man of Mine and the infectious No One Needs To Know made their appearance in the Come On Over-dominated show.
 
Hot purple clothes, hunky musicians and rotating treadmills all added to the overall hot country extravaganza. Not what you'd find on a Thorsby cattle farm, but you have to play sometime, right?
 
She may have waited forever to finally show her face (and other parts) in these parts, but I think not too many would say it wasn't worth the wait.
 
Opening up for Twain was anoter Ontario act, Leahy, a band which was strayed perhaps a little too far down the McCeltic trail, step-danced and power-fiddled its way into the memories of thousands of country fans. Their Amazing Grace and B Minor songs got people up and standing and their tight black garb made them look like something out of an early 80s John Travolta movie.
 
Their set felt like only 20 minutes, but they certainly made some friends last night.
 
But Shania made us fall in love. Her show is so big and mainstram, but had a depth of emotion, thanks to Twain's unstoppable voice, rarely seen at big country shows.
 
By the end: chaos. Shania was screaming, ``Come on, it's only a few more minutes. You can help me,'' in front of her decimated drum. Everyone was on their feet after she'd made her rounds on a platform carried by Druids security. I even got to touch her hand.
 
Fireworks were going off as Shania Twain belted Rock This Country! at the frenzied Edmontonians.
 
Maybe the pice Girls would be better off joining her band.
 
Let's hope she comes again soon.

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