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Shania Twain brings the hits, polish in Palace show


Detroit Free Press
By Brian McCollum
July 26, 2015


This is the year when the 1990s decided to pay country music a visit with pizzazz and pyrotechnics intact.

Five months after Garth Brooks hit Detroit as part of a post-retirement tour, fellow onetime trendsetter Shania Twain made a return trip of her own, performing Saturday night for a near-sellout crowd at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

It was the 49-year-old star's first show here since a 2003 doubleheader at the Palace, and followed a lengthy touring gap that included voice issues, a divorce and a two-year Las Vegas residency.

Twain, whose arena productions during her '90s heyday helped raise the bar for live country, certainly didn't need any lessons from Vegas in the art of stagecraft. But her stint there seems to have made its mark: At the Palace on Saturday, she led a lights-lasers-and-pyro spectacle marked by precisely calibrated moments and even at times a perfunctory, mechanical feel.

This was a homecoming of sorts for the Windsor-born singer, and there was a solid Canadian contingent on hand at the Palace, judging by the Ontario license plates outside and the loud response when Twain name-checked her home nation early on.

A high rock energy accompanied the proceedings, as Twain and her polished seven-piece band drew heavily from the pair of bazillion-selling albums "The Woman in Me" and "Come On Over" that helped make her the biggest female success in country history. Three costume-change breaks gave the band a chance to whip up showy rock interludes worthy of Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Twain had kicked it all off with, fittingly, "Rock This Country," emerging in sunglasses, fringed jacket and knee-high boots as a riser elevated her at center stage. The stream of hits and familiar hooks flowed from there: "Honey, I'm Home," "You Win My Love," "Love Gets Me," "Any Man of Mine."

Twain's country roots weren't totally forsaken, and the twang periodically came to the forefront, including the saucy 2005 single "I Ain't No Quitter" and fiddle-driven "Don't Be Stupid (You Know I Love You)." An arrangement of red theater curtains gave the stage a scaled-down feel for a low-key stretch that found Twain armed with a guitar and one of the night's best moments, the poignant 2011 song "Today is Your Day."

Beneath the peppy demeanor and musical sass that became Twain's public persona two decades ago, there long lurked a vague sense of isolation and disconnect, even in concert. But on Saturday, she managed to peel back some layers, stopping to reflect on her time out of the limelight and revealing vulnerabilities.

"When you stop doing something for a long time, you lose your confidence and courage," she told the Palace crowd. "And you just have to go out there and find that again."

Twain was never a powerhouse vocalist, succeeding instead through the strength of her material and the verve she brought to it all. Her voice is no stronger at 49, and the 100-minute set brought its share of slippery notes (along with seemingly prerecorded backing vocal tracks).

But that was likely just a small obstacle for a high-charged Palace audience that came to soak in a night of nostalgia and Shania comeback glory, driving the energy as Twain hit a homestretch that included the soundtrack-worthy grandeur of "From This Moment On" and the strobe-blasted " (If You're Not in It for Love) I'm Outta Here!"

This may have been the last glimpse of Twain on a metro Detroit stage: While she says she'll continue to make music, she has also declared that this tour which will include overseas dates next year is very likely her last.

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