Twain's still the one, pleasing Pittsburgh fans

Beaver County Times
By Scott Tady
July 11, 2015

PITTSBURGH – There was lots of red, but no signs of rust Friday from Shania Twain at Consol Energy Center.

The singing star's first tour in 11 years, and first Pittsburgh visit in 12, ran like a well-oiled machine, with fireworks, flames and fabulous clothing adding to the visual flair as Twain sang all her hits.

A month shy of 50, Twain looked magnificent. She's a blonde now, who started her show in sparkly red cocktail attire layered under a fringe-y leather jacket, with heeled thigh boots and red-tinted sunglasses that were to die for, matching her blinged out red microphone.

Her 19-song performance launched with “Rock This Country,” which was more country than rock thanks to the fiddle that came twofold on her next song, “Honey, I'm Home” rendered in all its honky-tonk-pop glory with sparks shooting from the stage.

Twain shed her shades before “You Win My Love,” another twangy tune from her band, several of whom played red instruments. Clad in black with red embellishments like her lead guitarist's necktie, they laid down the ridiculously catchy groove to “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?” as big neon boots danced on the jumbo screen..

A giggly Twain finally took a breath to chat with the crowd that looked very close to sold-out, mixed in age, but skewing more towards people old enough to remember her 1997 groundbreaking emergence.

That glittery red top slipped off one shoulder after Twain sang “I Ain't No Quitter,” which she described as an ode to her stubbornness and determination. Remember: She's just five years removed from a vocal box disorder that threatened her career, though Twain's singing sounded flawless Friday as her set progressed towards its country/adult contemporary crossovers.

“Don't Be Stupid (You Know I Love You)” brought the night's main spontaneity, as Twain pulled on stage a front-row female fan, who with a purse slung across her shoulder, began belting out the lyrics like a seasoned pro. A delighted looking Twain ushered the fan (as luck would have it, an amateur singer) around the stage to let her capably sing some more, later remarking, “That's the first time I've ever done that as a duet.”

As Twain learned during her two-year residency in Las Vegas, fans have come to expect face-time and photo ops with their singing stars, so she gave her Pittsburgh fans both, first by taking a lap around the arena's floor atop a wheeled vehicle I'd like to think is called the Shaniamobile. For “Up!” from 2002, she road a stationary mechanical bull lifted by a crane that spun her slowly around the room, eye-level with fans near the top of the lower bowl.

Twain's well-liked warmup act, soulful rocker Gavin DeGraw, returned for a duet on “Party for Two.”

Having switched to a shiny, silvery outfit cut thigh-high, Twain took a seat for a three-song acoustic set that started with a quick speech about her gratitude to fans during this comeback tour.

“It was not easy, but I'm having the time of my life,” she said, setting up “Today is Your Day.” With a large red curtain as a backdrop, she followed with “No One Needs to Know” then an utterly solid, acoustic rendition of her huge hit “You're Still The One” dedicated to Pittsburgh fans.

Normally we'd call it smoke, though for Twain it seemed more like clouds rising from the stage for the soaring ballad “From This Moment On.”

She has said this is her final tour, but it didn't feel like an emotional swan song, especially during the rocking conclusion that kicked into high gear with the stomping country-pop of “That Don't Impress Me Much.” Nope, Brad Pitt look-alikes still don't do it for her.

The encore gave Twain time for a third major wardrobe change, as she emerged in a sultry one-piece, her boots striding purposefully across a fire-breathing stage, to sing “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!”

It felt good for all of us.

Some credit is due DeGraw, for an engaging 40-minute warmup set that offered a few covers, notably a hard-grinding run through “Big Shot” by Billy Joel, who DeGraw opened for last year in the same building. DeGraw was more fun this year.