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Old 10-09-2003, 06:09 AM
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An exuberant Shania Twain gets up close and personal

By Ken Capobianco, Globe Correspondent, 10/9/2003

Shania Twain likes exclamation points. About half of the songs on her recent record ''Up!'' were punctuated with them, and her performance at the FleetCenter Tuesday felt like a living, breathing exclamation point. Twain entertained the sold-out arena with a big, brassy, vivid performance featuring pyrotechnics, dazzling lighting, dramatic moments, and top-notch musicianship.
Playing in the round on a multitiered stage with nine musicians -- including three fiddle players -- the country crossover star amiably bounded about as she worked her way through most of ''Up!'' and songs from her recent catalog. There may be no more fan-friendly performer working these days. Twain spent much of the night glad-handing almost everyone who reached out for her, signing autographs, and stopping the show to take pictures with audience members. At one point she invited two young girls up to center stage to sing solo.

Musically, it's easy to understand Twain's popularity. Her songs are built around broad choruses with catchy, uplifting phrases, and there's more than enough mainstream pop to ingratiate her to those who don't like their country roots to run too deep.

The first half of her show, during which she wore a Red Sox jersey (Nomar, of course), was peppered with such radio-friendly songs as ''Man! I Feel Like a Woman!,'' ''Up!,'' and ''I'm Not in the Mood (to Say No!).'' They're more rock songs than anything else, but, as she said when trying to define her musical genre, ''I don't fit anywhere, I fit with you guys.''

With the audience is where she sang the ballad ''The Woman in Me (Needs the Man in You),'' accompanied only by her guitar player. Sometimes Twain's affability was a turnoff, though, as when she sang ''Love Gets Me Every Time'' and ''That Don't Impress Me Much'' on autopilot, reciting the lyrics mechanically while fumbling from pen to pen to sign autographs.

But there was more than enough dazzle in the set to compensate. The second half opened like halftime at the Super Bowl, with Twain singing ''From This Moment On,'' a big power ballad, augmented by dry ice and fireworks. A home stretch filled with a medley of early hits ''Come on Over'' and ''(If You're Not in It for Love) I'm Outta Here!'' (featuring a dozen local drummers) showcased the band's crisp musicianship and Twain's song-savvy ways.

As a capper, Twain opened the encore with ''You're Still the One,'' but before she sang it, she allowed a man in the audience to surprise his girlfriend by proposing (she said yes). It was a shameless moment, more Las Vegas than Nashville, but all in keeping with Twain's populist persona. Someone find this lady an office to run for.

Shania Twain at the FleetCenter Tuesday.
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