PITTSBURGH — They heard the slow, steady thump of a bass drum and began loudly clapping along Monday night (Sept. 29) at Pittsburgh’s Mellon Arena. Shania Twain fans were eager for the start of the singer’s first U.S. date on her Up! world tour. Unfortunately, the audience was accidentally keeping time with a recording of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” being played through the PA.
The harmonizing of Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks quickly faded, though, as Twain called out, “Are you ready, Pittsburgh?” and walked through the crowd to the large oval stage in the center of the arena floor. Dressed in shiny gold cargo pants, a matching turquoise bra and sneakers and a mesh-adorned fuzzy purple halter, Twain kicked off her show by belting out “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” between blasts of the tune’s signature synthesized horn riff.
Whether she was on the tall center platform, one of four winding staircases or the looping outer track of the stage, Twain was always clearly visible on the video screens hanging just below the hockey scoreboard. She also used the screens during “She’s Not Just a Pretty Face” to project images of women ranging from Olympic athletes to Anne Frank, all the while singing a litany of female capabilities and accomplishments. Members of Twain’s nine-piece band were featured prominently on screen, too. Drummer J.D. Blair won numerous converts by donning a Mario Lemieux hockey sweater and talking about attending Sunday’s (Sept. 28) Steeler game at Heinz Field.
At first, Twain seemed to find the crowd a bit quiet and tentative, finally admonishing them with a cry of, “Get off your butts! Come on!” as she launched into “I’m Not in the Mood (To Say No!).” She soon met fans halfway, though, as she began greeting them at the edge of the stage during almost every song. Twain graciously accepted notes and flowers, touched outstretched hands and even signed autographs while seamlessly delivering every note and phrase.
Twain did admit, “Sometimes I get distracted reading your signs.” She made a point of inviting two fans with posters onstage between tunes. A fan named Ed caught Twain’s eye with a sign reading, “You kissed my right cheek in ’98. How about the left?” Ed received his kiss as well as a signature on his bright yellow Shania T-shirt. Twain also brought up 17-year-old Misha who toted a poster to the show proclaiming it was her birthday. Twain had the whole arena crowd sing to the teen and also had Misha sing a few bars of “I’m Gonna Getcha Good!”
Twain also took time between songs to thank fans who contributed to her charity that helps feed hungry children in each city she visits. Fans who donated received a special ticket, and one winner was selected to meet Twain onstage and have her picture taken with the singer.
Twain’s one hour and 55 minute set was full of both musical and visual fireworks. Twain’s group played big, note-perfect versions of everything from twangy early hits like “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?” to the glossy ballad “From This Moment On” to a range of distinctive pop songs from Up! All the while, explosions abounded on stage as crackling fireworks and columns of fire shot up around Twain when she stood center stage.
Nearly everyone appeared to stay for the encore, and they were rewarded with a brisk run-through of the hits “You’re Still the One,” “Any Man of Mine” and “Rock This Country!” Twain even donned a black Steelers jersey for the 10-minute mini-set which ended with a shower of confetti and blasts of light from giant gold sparklers. Twain’s American tour was off to a spectacular, crowd-pleasing start.
James Otto opened the show with an acoustic set. Joined by a second guitarist and a percussionist, Otto wrapped his warm, Southern voice around melodic singer-songwriter material like “Gone,” “She Knows” and the single “Days of Our Lives.”
SHANIA TWAIN SET LIST:
“Man! I Feel Like a Woman!”
“Honey, I’m Home”
“C’est La Vie”
“Forever and For Always”
“I’m Not in the Mood (To Say No!)”
“She’s Not Just a Pretty Face”
“Don’t Be Stupid (You Know I Love You)”
“When You Kiss Me”
“Love Gets Me Every Time”
“Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?”
“From This Moment On”
“No One Needs to Know”
“Thank You Baby! (For Makin’ Someday Come So Soon)”
“The Woman in Me (Needs the Man in You)”
“That Don’t Impress Me Much”
“What a Way to Wanna Be!”
Medley: “When”/“You Win My Love”/“Come on Over”/“I’m Holdin’ On to Love (To Save My Life)”
“I’m Gonna Getcha Good!”
“In My Car (I’ll Be the Driver)”
“(If You’re Not in it for Love) I’m Outta Here!”
“You’re Still the One”
“Any Man of Mine”
“Rock This Country!”