Overall, you know exactly what you're getting with Ms Twain, and for her fans this is...
Chris Jones 2002-12-04
In the case of global superstars like Shania Twain it's often easy to forget how long it takes to promote your latest album - for the world is a BIG place. While the album Up! came out in November 2002 the juggernaut that is Shania and her touring band have been plugging it ever since. Fans in the UK who missed her Hyde Park gig last summer will get the chance to see the show in February 2004, but in the meantime they can (p)re-live the experience with this glossy document of an open air gig in Chicago from this year's US leg of the tour.
With the obligatory 5.1 surround sound mix and pin sharp visuals, DVD is fast becoming the place to experience any band in a live context (short of being in the front row) and Shania's utilised the advantages to the max. The question remains; just how country is this really? Her band are honed to perfection and the string section always provide the requisite hoedown feel; yet the enormous line-up (four guitarists anyone?) and tub-thumping drummer (in irritatingly wacky goggles) provide power that's more readily associated with stadium rockers.
Of course, if you're playing a stadium this is only to be expected. But one can't help hesitating slightly at the spectacle that's born of multi-million predecessors such as Garth Brooks. Shania may wish to rock this country (as she does on the last track) but the spectre of husband Mutt Lange's production leaves the whole thing sounding more like Def Leppard than Dolly Parton.
The performances are photocopy-perfect (almost too much so in the vocal department; one suspects a fair amount of post-production) but the live setting and crowd ambience make it a far from sterile experience. Shania works the crowd in her inimitable style - even duetting with some cutesy little kids plucked from the audience on ''I'm Gonna Get You Good'' and there's no denying the pop power of material like ''Man! I Feel Like A Woman!'' And ''Nah!'' (doesn't she ever tire of those exclamation marks?). Overall, you know exactly what you're getting with Ms Twain, and for her fans this is bound to be a very good thing indeed. Can the rest of us just have a little more country next time around?