For Shania Twain, goodbye doesn’t mean forever

The Buffalo News
By Tim O'Shei
October 2, 2015

Concert Preview

Shania Twain with Gavin DeGraw

7:30 p.m. Saturday in the First Niagara Center. Tickets are $43.50 to $133.50 (box office, Call (888) 223-6000.

When country rock star Shania Twain announced her first tour in more than a decade earlier this year, she made it clear: Her “Rock This Country” Tour, which includes a show Saturday in First Niagara Center, would be her last.

“The reason for the tour is to say goodbye to the stage on a high,” she told reporters on a conference call last May.

During that call, which her publicists said would be Twain’s only availability to talk about the tour, the singer clarified that this isn’t her retirement from music. It’s simply the end of her performing career.

 “I will be doing music, I’m sure, till the day I die,” she said. “I love music too much. The performance side of it, I feel, is a phase of my life.”

Now it turns out that phase may be continuing.

Twain, 50, is having such a good time performing – and getting such positive reviews – that she is talking about a comeback before she’s even had a chance to leave.

“I’m having the time of my life,” she told interviewer Robin Leach last month. “I’m in good spirits and having so much fun.”

The Canadian-born singer broke out in the 1990s with hits like “Any Man of Mine,” “Honey I’m Home” and “That Don’t Impress Me Much.” In 2004, she stepped away from the stage to spend more time with her then-young son, Eja. What was intended to be a short sabbatical turned into a long hiatus as Twain struggled with vocal issues (they’ve since been addressed) and went through a divorce.

She returned to the public eye in 2012 with a two-year residency at Caesars Palace, and began her current tour last June.

Reviews for Twain’s tour show, which includes a seven-piece band, elaborate glass staging and pyrotechnics, have been overwhelmingly positive. And not just from the critics and the fans – Twain herself has apparently been feeling the love, so much so that she’s decided this isn’t the conclusion.

After a show in San Diego in last month, Twain spoke with Leach, the entertainment journalist famous for “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous” and now a writer for the Las Vegas Sun. Twain told Leach, “The tour is tiring, but I’m loving it. It’s become far more meaningful than I thought it would be.”

Twain added that after she finishes her next album this fall, she plans to take the tour to Europe, and hopefully Asia, Australia and New Zealand, then circle back to Vegas for another residency.

Given how resolute Twain was about leaving the stage while talking in earlier interviews, that change of heart may seem surprising.

But maybe it shouldn’t.

During her pre-tour conference call, Twain talked about the sense of fulfillment she gets from performing.

“It’s the interaction,” she said. “It’s not the performing itself. It’s not why I do it. I don’t need to be in the spotlight. It’s never been a desire of mine to be in the spotlight. I enjoy the interaction that platform brings me, if that makes sense.”

Twain spent the next couple of minutes expanding on her thinking. She was intent on making it clear: She loves being creative, and songwriting is her outlet. And she loves being able to talk to masses of fans; in her words, it’s “this cool relationship that I can have with the public.”

“That could be in any form,” Twain said. “It doesn’t have to be in the form of being the live stage singer. Oprah probably gets a great thrill out of doing what she does and communicating with the public.”

But Twain isn’t Oprah; she’s Shania. She sings. Which helps explain why this Saturday may not be Buffalo’s last chance to see her do it.