Shania Twain serves up red hot Calgary set at Saddledome Thursday night

Calgary Sun
By Gerry Krochak
September, 2015

It feels like Shania Twain might be meaning it when she says goodbye.

During the first of two less than sold-out shows at the Scotiabank Saddledome, the 50-year-old ultimate pop-country diva (and these days, “rock chick”) seemed relaxed and maybe even a little relieved as she gave her fans exactly what they paid for: flash, style, glitz, glamour, sex-appeal, lasers, pyrotechnics, video screens, massive stage production, costume changes . . . and all the hits.

Dressed in a knockout sequined Rolling Stones mini-dress, fringed black leather jacket, aviator sunglasses and thigh-high leather boots, the idol of the evening rose up from a pedestal underneath the stage to greet her adoring masses, and jumped into current tour namesake, Rock This Country! as she air-guitar-ed her way across the monster stage.

Where in the past she seemed awkward and tentative in a concert setting, Twain was completely at ease, smiling, hand-slapping and teasing her way through Honey, I’m Home and You Win My Love as the crowd roared its collective approval.

“Thank you for the wonderful welcome — it’s so great to be back!” Twain gushed, as the crowd went wild. “We’re going to have some fun in Calgary tonight, you guys.”

Never blessed with powerhouse vocal capability herself, Twain’s seven-piece band was sharp and tight, allowing her the gravity to play the role of loose and lively entertainer through sing-song heavy hitters such as Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?, Love Gets Me Every Time and the pure pop poetry of, er, Don’t Be Stupid (You Know I Love You).

In the end, and at the end, maybe Twain’s mass appeal has always been in the music’s simplicity. As a singer and performer, women love her for that sense of female empowerment and songs that have a beat you can dance to, children love her because the songs are easy to remember and sing along to, and men love her because ... well, she’s still smokin’ hot. In terms of a sellable music “product,” that pretty much covers off the widest demographic you can ask for.

Still, she has learned how to entertain, pace and work a crowd: she pranced, slinked and strutted her way through further hits, Any Man Of Mine, I’m Gonna Getcha Good! The title track from ‘97s Come On Over and the title cut from 2002’s Up!

Was it entertaining? Sure. Was it an eye-rolling encapsulation of every showbiz cliché even attempted?

That, too.

But for a girl that came from nothing, Ms. Twain has done well for herself. People can identify with and appreciate that.

The expected hits kept coming in the form of the tender one-two punch of You’re Still The One and From This Moment On as well as That Don’t Impress Me Much and (If You’re Not In It For Love) I’m Outta Here.

As for the encore, it’s still a gas watching grown men sing every word to Man! I Feel Like A Woman!

There was a time when a “Farewell Tour” actually meant that the performer(s) would cease to continue performing: If Twain meant it last night, and it seemed like she did, she left her fans with memories that will last a long time.

Opening the show was New York rock, pop and soul artist, Gavin DeGraw — an individual even less country music than Shania Twain.

Now, going on in front of someone like Twain can be a rather thankless task, but DeGraw used the opportunity to its fullest extent by owning the stage and delivering the goods.

While most of the Shania faithful sat expressionless or lightly toe-tapping, tunes such as Soldier, In Love With A Girl, Best I Ever Had, the hit single, Chariot, Not Over You and I Don’t Want To Be did not sound out of place on the big stage.

Who knew?

It all takes place again Friday night back at The Saddledome, and good seats are still available.