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Twain wins crowd with million-dollar charm

Wednesday, May 19, 1999

By Ed Masley, Post-Gazette Pop Music Critic

The way she worked the crowd in Burgettstown last night, it was easy enough to see exactly what it is that has made Shania Twain the hottest entertainer of the moment.

After all, she is the hottest entertainer of the moment.

It's a beauty contest out there, and Twain is clearly country music's "It Girl," taking the stage of the Coca-Cola Star Lake Amphitheatre in tight black vinyl pants and a tight black top with two white stripes around her tiny waist, a million-dollar smile and a ponytail giving her just the right amount of innocuous charm.

Her looks alone could sell 10 million units of an album as radio-friendly as "Come On Over."

But there's more to Twain than looks.

For one, she really is a sweetheart. No song meant so much that she couldn't sing it while working the front of the stage -- accepting gifts, shaking hands, signing autographs. Several times, she stopped the show to bring a fan or two on stage to chat and capture the moment on Polaroid, which, of course, she autographed.

And then you've got the music -- a little bit country, a little bit rock 'n' roll, like Donny and Marie, but somehow cornier.

She opened with "Man! I Feel Like a Woman," the tune with the crunchy, arena-rock guitar riff -- as played at the Grammys. "Honey, I'm Home" offered more of the same, including the sort of onstage pyrotechnics that usually come with that guitar tone.

Before launching into "Who's Bed Have Your Boots Been Under," a smiling Twain informed the sold-out crowd of 23,067: "I'm looking forward to meeting a few people in the audience here tonight."

And did she ever, bringing the concert to a standstill time and time again. It was a relief when she finally got down to business, sitting cross-legged on a stool to play guitar and sing her greatest hit, "You're Still the One."

Other crowd-pleasing numbers included "No One Needs To Know," "Any Man of Mine" and a cute, little rocker called "That Don't Impress Me Much," in which the music stops and she deadpans, "OK, so, you're a rocket scientist." Like I said, it was cute.

She also brought the Bethel Park High School Choir onstage to help her through "God Bless the Child." The kids were great, but it wasn't enough to salvage the tune from an almost New-Age ambiance.

Before the evening was over, Twain thanked the people on the lawn for sticking it out in the pouring rain and let them know that even she can be affected by a rainy night.

"It's so humid," she said. "I don't know why I bothered putting hair spray in my bangs."

It was, she said, "a bad hair day."

As if.

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