Fire and flash define Shania Twain’s stop at American Airlines Center

Dallas Morning News
By Hunter Hauk
August 11, 2015

Shania Twain indicated before embarking on the Rock This Country tour, her supposedly final multicity trek, that she intended to go out on a high. Considering the big-budget spectacle that landed at American Airlines Center on Monday night, she got what she wanted, with enough pyro to bring the adoring near-capacity crowd as much heat as, well, the weather earlier in the day.

The 49-year-old Canadian hit-maker didn’t comment on the sizzling temperature or anything else unique to Dallas. She was too concerned with sticking to her packed set list and script. As a result of the production’s rigidity, many of the show’s moments felt slightly robotic. That didn’t, however, hinder the crazed cries or the singalongs coming from the stands.

What else was notable about Twain’s Dallas stop? Man! I feel like telling you now.

It was more country than rock for a while. From the slick leather-and-fire aesthetic of the show’s visuals, it wouldn’t have been surprising had Twain stripped all the songs of their twang. But in the first half of the evening, multiple fiddlers followed the songstress around (“Honey, I’m Home” was a highlight), and there was even a steel guitar solo (on “I Ain’t No Quitter”). Neon cowgirl kicks flickered on the big screen behind Twain as she belted “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?” I only wish she’d have gotten in a dig at her cheating ex-husband beforehand. Lost opportunity for a sassy bit of banter.

The cheese factor was high. Many of Twain’s hits are relatable but slightly corny, like the overwrought rendition of “Party for Two” she did with opening act Gavin DeGraw, who came out rocking a Mavs cap. She also performed a half-acoustic version of her 2011 single “Today Is Your Day,” with platitudes and melodies that are a bit too reminiscent of a pharmaceutical commercial jingle. Still, Twain’s likability saved her from many eye rolls — she can easily wink and charm her way through a song like “That Don’t Impress Me Much” where others would certainly fail trying.

She was a vision throughout. It’s not OK to comment endlessly on an artist’s appearance when her true talents lie in showmanship and vocal prowess. But the outfits in this case were designed to dazzle and to set the show’s segments apart from one another. While Twain’s divaesque blond hair on this tour might be divisive for those who came to love her brunette locks of the ’90s, nobody can deny the fierceness of her sequin-filled, skin-tight getups in various shades of red and black. At one point when a jacket came off to reveal a skimpy little number, there was an audible gasp and then a collective cheer. A beautiful black gown donned during the elegant performance of “From This Moment On” rendered a laser light show around it completely unnecessary.

The fans were Twain’s No. 1 priority. Even though the aforementioned banter came off a bit rehearsed, the star’s longing for a connection with the crowd came off as genuine and powerful. Instead of a rock ’em, sock ’em rendition of the monster hit “Any Man of Mine,” Twain chose to perform that song while moving around the floor on a rolling cart and shaking hands. In the warmest musical moment of the night, she sat with an acoustic guitar and crooned “You’re Still the One” with thousands of makeshift background singers.

She played all the hits. And I do mean all of them — even the ones from her overcooked album Up! Some of those later tunes gave her the grandest concert moments. “Up!” found Twain flying around the arena atop a saddle, waving with one hand and holding her mike with the other (look, Ma!). Shots of pyro were timed to every syllable in the chorus of “I’m Gonna Getcha Good.” The voice sounded stronger and more confident on some songs than others — she finally hit a nice stride while sitting and picking “No One Needs to Know.” The most important thing was that Twain left no radio smash unsung — a solid strategy if this is indeed her final arena hurrah.