Twain's Lubbock concert
a fan-friendly affair
BY WILLIAM KERNS
A-J ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR
Call it part concert
, part an extended onstage meet-and-greet — but it is doubtful that many departed Shania Twain's debut Lubbock
appearance Saturday night at the United Spirit Arena feeling disappointed.
True, she fine tuned her show by eliminating 10 songs from set lists posted on the Internet when her "Up!" tour began.
The number of songs would not matter if Twain put her heart into singing for her entire 90-minute set. Instead, delays began to drag as she expressed her affection for fans from the third song on into the night.
There's nothing wrong with her decision, as long as one is willing to embrace this show more as spectacle than concert
Twain broke down walls separating artist and audience. Performing in the round, she made her way around the stage, holding a microphone in one hand while slapping hands and signing autographs with the other.
We're talking hundreds of autographs. During the songs.
On one hand, I've never seen any other artist try so hard to bring a smile to individual fans at a non-Fan Fair performance.
Do not doubt for a minute Twain's sincerity. I don't.
On the other hand, however, one may ask if thousands who purchased tickets desired a more concentrated effort. It has to be difficult to focus 100 percent on singing while scribbling signatures and shaking hands.
Ushers, by the way, obviously were encouraged to allow fans to rush the stage.
The recording artist made time for a costume change by cleverly asking band members to introduce one another.
Twain always has supported food banks, in part because of her own troubled childhood, and the Lubbock
couple (Jessica and Steve) that purchased a winning raffle ticket was brought on stage for a photograph and hugs.
Taking time to read handmade signs, Twain happened upon one written request by a mom for a photograph of Twain with her daughter. The headliner was moved by the request and immediately invited a 7-year-old named Delaney on stage not only for the photo pose, but also to sing a portion of "Up!" together.
The crowd loved Delaney.
Later, Twain sought a partner for "You're Still the One" and happened upon a fan — I did not hear her name — who fared well on stage, in part, the fan said, because she sang "You're Still the One" at her own wedding.
How could one not smile?
There was still time for Twain to leave the stage and give hugs to another pair of fans.
did not possess the concentrated pizazz of shows earlier in the singer's career, though she interacted to a smaller extent even then.
Her priority is different, although Twain's array of country pop songs still reveal a beautiful voice with admirable range.
She sang primarily hit singles from albums "Up!" and "Come On Over." Her Lubbock concert
also featured mostly high-energy songs as opposed to ballads.
It is impossible not to notice Twain's desire to please at any cost. Sound quality was exceptional, computerized lighting was professionally designed and pyrotechnic effects were numerous without stealing focus.
Confetti cannons and sparkling fireworks during encore (and show closer) "Rock This Country" actually created the visual effect of Twain inside a beautifully lit, giant snow globe.
Her eight-piece band is absolutely flawless, and she grants the show momentum by having musicians move around the stage perimeter or join her at the top. Choreographed movements of fiddle players Roddy Chiong, Cory Churko and Allison Cornell together were a plus.
Guitarist Randall Waller impressed whether on electric or adding romance by playing his acoustic guitar on bended knee.
Drummer J.D. Blair maintained the beat while wearing a Texas Tech baseball uniform shirt. Twain returned for her encore wearing a (Andre Emmett) #14 Tech basketball jersey, and the always fun Tech drum line joined the band for the percussion-heavy "(If You're Not In It For Love) I'm Outta Here!"
When I saw Twain perform on her previous tour, I was blown away by opening band Leahy. She again shares excellence. This year her opener is Emerson Drive, a dynamic six-piece country group that worked the crowd and was rewarded with a much-deserved standing ovation.
In addition to terrific performances of songs from new CD "What If?" (in stores Tuesday), Emerson Drive brought down the house with superb arrangements of U2's "Where the Streets Have No Name" and "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," the latter thanks to David Pichette's scorching fiddle-playing.
Those arriving fashionably late to purposely miss Saturday's opener also missed the evening's most consistently energized half hour of great music.