By John Lamb, The Forum
Published Sunday, June 06, 2004
When Shania Twain yelled "Are you ready Fargo?" it was initially unclear if she was asking the packed Fargodome crowd whether it was ready for a concert or a workout.
For much of Saturday night's show the Canadian country singer bounced around the oval stage in the center of the floor like an aerobics instructor dressed in neon Lycra and sparkly hi-tops.
The fans, some coming down from Canada for the only North Dakota stop on the tour, rose to the challenge.
The singer made a flashy entrance, running through the crowd launching into her anthem, "Man (I Feel Like a Woman)," then breaking into the title track from her last album, "Up."
Sometimes criticized by Nashville purists for being every bit as poppy as country, Twain answered cynics by issuing two discs with "Up" – one with country versions of the songs and the other with pop variations of the same tunes. She played to both sides of the dial Saturday, singing ballads and country crowd-pleasers.
Country singer Shania Twain glides across the stage during her performance in the round attended by 18,223 fans Saturday at the Fargodome. Colburn Hvidston III / The Forum
Showing she could be as much sugar as spice, Twain plugged a charity, Fargo's Second Harvest Food Bank, by drawing a fan's ticket for a photo op with the singer and later presenting the winner, a young local girl named Emily.
"Until then we're gonna kick your butt," Twain yelled, and launched into "Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under," her first hit she wrote with husband, producer Mutt Lange.
Though she spent most of the show dancing around the stage, signing autographs and collecting flowers, the biggest applause came when she brought fans onstage. Some performances were more miss than hit. When she brought two women up to help sing "Still the One," one appeared to have been enjoying a girl's night out a little too much, prompting Twain to say, "No more beer." A young male fan also tried, but instead sang "I'm Gonna Getcha Good," getting laughs with the line, "I'm gonna get me some man." The best was a group of female fans, including a young girl who sang, "Honey I'm Home and I Had a Bad Day."
Not to be upstaged by a child, after an extended piano intro, Twain popped up in the middle of the darkened crowd with a guitarist singing "The Woman in Me," then raced back to the stage for "That Don't Impress Me Much" and "I'm Gonna Getcha Good."
Though the staging made the star accessible, the show suffered only from pacing. A round-the-stage introduction of her band made for a convenient wardrobe change – into another bright workout ensemble. Band members tried their best to joke, but dressed like a Nintendo street gang (a drummer wearing ski goggles?) or the new generation of the united colors of Benetton, the laughs were on them.
Openers Emerson Drive, another Nashville act by way of Canada, showcased crossover credibility, covering Charlie Daniels' "Devil Went Down to Georgia" by copping bits of Bon Jovi's "Dead or Alive" and the riff to Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" while yelling "on your feet" repeatedly.
It was an order the Fargodome fans didn't need.
Readers can reach Forum reporter
John Lamb at (701) 241-5533