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Pop Music Review

Spirited Twain Straddles Country and Rock


"Man! I feel like a woman!" screamed a guy dancing in place with a beer in one hand and his girlfriend in the other, while Shania Twain vamped through the title refrain of her girly party anthem at the Hollywood Bowl on Thursday.

At once down-to-earth and ultra high energy, the country-pop star's nearly two-hour concert encouraged such fun-loving twists on reality, much as Twain's music blurs the lines between newfangled country and good old-fashioned hard rock.

In fact, it was sometimes hard to remember that Twain is a country artist. Sure, her nine-piece band featured a pedal-steel player and several fiddles, and there was a certain twang to just about every song. Reflecting the Canadian singer's diverse influences, however, there was also a distinctly pop-metal tinge to the sing-along choruses and the guitarists' crunchy solos.

Dashing between band and audience on a runway that extended through the first section of seats and out to both sides, Twain tirelessly worked the crowd during a mostly upbeat set of tunes from her multimillion-selling album "Come on Over," along with such earlier hits as "Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?"

The womanliness Twain brandished was sassy but never out of line with convention--like Madonna's, if rather more wholesome. And like Celine Dion, she was overly eager to charm, stopping the show too often while she brought fans, many of them cute little girls dressed in Shania-esque costumes, onstage to chat with her and have a band member take their pictures. At least those encounters were more spontaneous than the parts where she swept a spotlight over the audience and was carried around the amphitheater on a dais.

On the other hand, there wasn't much spontaneous about Twain's music anyway. The rocking boogies never got too out of hand, the gentle ballads never dug too deep, and the sparkling fireworks popped right on cue. The most genuinely affecting moment came when she sat on a stool and strummed an acoustic guitar, singing her hit love song "You're Still the One" with truly sweet conviction.

* Shania Twain plays tonight at Glen Helen Blockbuster Pavilion, 2575 Glen Helen Parkway, Devore, 8 p.m. $25-$65. (909) 886-8742.

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