Rabid fans in Calgary soak in Shania Twain’s first Stampede appearance and first travelling concert in a decade

Calgary Sun
By Gerry Krochak
July 9, 2014

What happens in Vegas … doesn’t always stay in Vegas.

Making a quick two-day and two-night Calgary Stampede detour from her two-year residency at Caesar’s Palace in Sin City, Shania Twain thrilled a capacity crowd during the first of two sold-out concerts at the Scotiabank Saddledome Wednesday night.

As the blistering sun hammered down on 17,000 Bryan Adams fans just up the street at Fort Calgary (that makes two Canadian icons in our city on the same night), there was a party of a different — but no less rowdy — kind at the Dome during what was surely the entertainment peak of the 2014 Calgary Stampede.

Living up to the hype will always be a challenge for the biggest-selling female country artist of all time, but it wasn’t a tough crowd gathered at the old barn last night for what was easily been the most anticipated performance of the real “Greatest Outdoor Show On Earth.”

Hell, it’s not like nerves could be a problem when the vast majority of the 14,000 in attendance had convinced themselves that this 90-minute performance would be the gig of the year — before even walking through the doors.

After making a grand horseback entrance, and wearing a Mountie uniform (for real).

The ultra-slick and sterile Vegas glitz was evident through the simplistic, almost nursery-rhyme-ish lyrics of I’m Gonna Getcha Good!, You Win My Love and Don’t Be Stupid (You Know I Love You). But if the songs that led to over 75 million records sold are far from classic art, they are enduring … and, frankly, easy for anyone to sing along to.

How else do you explain a 10-year absence from the public eye and an appetite for the 48-year-old originator of mass crossover pop and country that has, seemingly, not waned one bit? Not even a little.

“Welcome Calgary,” Twain gushed as the building exploded. “This my first Calgary Stampede … can you believe it?

“It feels so good to not only be back in Calgary, but to be back on the live concert stage after nearly ten years. We’re going to have a good old Canadian time tonight!”

And they did.

Despite the horseback gag, a 13-piece band and one giant video screen in the middle of the stage, the production and “show” value was nowhere near where it needed to be for a concert of this magnitude and ticket price.

Let’s face it, when there’s this little substance, there needs to be flash and plenty of it. That’s showbiz pop-country in a nutshell — and, let’s be honest, Twain played a huge role in creating it.

In any case, the crowd continued to go berserk through the title cut from 2002’s Up! before a slight break from the massive hits with the two-step honky-tonkin’ of I Ain’t No Quitter and No One Needs To Know.

An acoustic foray which included a tribute to Twain’s late mother and cover of the Hollies’ Carrie Anne, the title cut of the eighth-biggest selling album in music history, Come On Over, as well as Rock This Country! paved the way for a double shot of Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under and Any Man Of Mine — both numbers from Twain’s 1995 breakthrough album The Woman In Me had the shoe-horned throng hootin,’ hollerin’ and dancing in the aisles.

Twain has always had impeccable timing and wouldn’t you know it? Country line dancing is, once again, in vogue. Sheesh! She continued to pour on the hits through That Don’t Impress Me Much and (If You’re Not In It For Love) I’m Outta Here!

The predictable, yet clearly crowd-pleasing finale of You’re Still The One, From This Moment On and Man! I Feel Like A Woman sent the crowd to the exists feeling like they got exactly what they came for.

Show of the year? Highly debatable. Most excitement of the year? No contest …

Speaking of thrills … La Crete, Alta., trio High Valley did our province proud by walking on the Saddledome stage and hardly looking out of place during its 30-minute opening set.

Brothers Brad and Curtis Rempel showed some beefy harmony vocal chops through Rescue You, Let It Be Me and Copper Mine as the massive crowd filed towards their seats and took notice. Nice work, boys.

It all takes place again Thursday night at another soldout Scotiabank Saddledome.

== == ==

Shania Twain at the Saddledome

Attendance: 14,000 (Sold out)

First of two concerts

2 1/2 STARS (out of 5)

Clips of the concert - 30 minutes