Concert review | Shania Twain: Nostalgia, boots, charisma rule night

The Columbus Dispatch
By Kevin Joy
September 30, 2015

A house full of Shania Twain fans partied on Wednesday night like it was, well, 1995.

As the country-pop queen — an artist to bridge the genre divide long before Carrie Underwood or Taylor Swift — strutted a Nationwide Arena stage in thigh-high boots and a fringed leather jacket to deliver her caught-ya-cheating smash Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under? while thousands of boot-clad fans toe-tapped in time, it was odd to acknowledge Twain’s extended absence from the stage.

The 50-year-old Canadian superstar, whose 1997 Come On Over album remains the best-selling album by a female artist, had been silent for nearly a decade after vocal-cord problems took her out of the spotlight (her post-rehabilitation return came three years ago via a Las Vegas residency that encompassed 105 shows at Caesars Palace).

The artist’s time in Sin City was reflected in a big-budget, pyro-heavy stage show that found Twain — now a blonde — hitting every mark and having us home by 10:20 p.m. It was a greatest-hits showcase that gave the headliner little need to shoehorn in new or obscure material.

A lone exception: 2011 midtempo cut Today Is Your Day, the first piece of music Twain wrote after splitting from her powerhouse producer and husband, Robert “Mutt” Lange.

Otherwise, nostalgia ruled. She rode around the floor seats in a popemobile-style vehicle to deliver high-fives and handshakes during her twangy Any Man of Mine. A pool of smoke hung at her sequin-encrusted footwear during the ballad From This Moment On. Before an umpteenth run-through of the fizzy bubbler Up!, Twain mounted a mechanical bull attached to a crane that took her over the floor seats.

“From my perch up here,” Twain said above the squeals, “this is just an honor.”

It was, to her charisma and credit, well-rehearsed spontaneity.

The musical equivalent of playing Candy Crush or curling up with a glass of red wine on Scandal night, Twain’s catalog has long been a guilty pleasure that most of us don’t feel all that guilty about.

And that glee was seen in sing-along, exclamation-point-heavy melodies of female empowerment (I’m Gonna Getcha Good! and [If You’re Not in It for Love] I’m Outta Here!) as well as Top 40 hits Man! I Feel Like A Woman and, with the latter featuring a seated Twain on acoustic guitar in a rare moment of moderation, a poignant You’re Still The One — with which most people in the venue could still croon along as if it had been released last month, not in 1998.

Twain’s voice, while commanding, showed signs that the diva is still working to regain the prominence of her glory days.

For most in attendance, however, those memories were at the forefront. She was, in fact, still the one.