Shania Twain, The O2: a stunning, uplifting spectacular from the queen of country pop
iNews - UK
By Sarah Carson
October 3, 2018
In flowing, leopard-print satin, and surrounded by flashing animal-print projections, Shania Twain performed the cheeky, withering, That Don’t Impress Me Much last night at London’s O2. The crazed sirens and breathless beat of that song, and the vampy grandeur of the empress-like Twain herself, were transporting – back to 1997, in fact, when she was the queen of country-pop and one of the most exciting artists in music.
It was exhilarating for a crowd who thought they might never see Twain again. Until 2017’s Now, it had been 15 years since she had released any new music. Her young life would already have made a great film – impoverished childhood in rural Ontario, violent stepfather, after-school performances in bars to support her family, the tragic death of her parents in a car accident, a move to Nashville and fame and Come on Over, which remains the bestselling album by a female artist of all time.
Her more recent troubles shape up to a meaty sequel: her husband and collaborator, Robert “Mutt” Lange had an affair with her best friend (whose husband she in turn would end up marrying herself), a bout of Lyme disease left her without a voice, a Vegas residency, a comeback album, and now a sensational world tour. As she cackled and beamed, it felt like she had never been away.
Twain was first escorted to the stage through the swarming crowd by bodyguards (including, bizarrely, comedians Romesh Ranganathan and Rob Beckett), for an uplifting, Vegas-tailored show that felt like an affirmation of her songwriting talent and towering star power. She has the magnetic charisma and easy dominance as if she were still the world’s greatest popstar – chatty, earnest, gracious, and funny.
Country music has changed since the 90s, so songs like the honky-tonk Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under? and Any Man of Mine from her breakout album The Woman in Me might have dated, but Twain’s production acknowledged this corniness without undermining her music – winking as she do-si-doed with her dancers, having a “teasin’ squeezin’ pleasin’ kinda time”.
She was sombre for ballad From This Moment On and its soaring, theatrical strings, Man! I Feel Like a Woman was winningly camp, and a semi-acoustic rendition of Still the One was a lovely, tender singalong, as she played guitar on a rotating platform in the centre of the crowd. She was sent skywards on a podium for Up!, and surrounded by LED-lit silhouettes for the rockier I’m Gonna Getcha Good!
New songs like Life’s About to Get Good and Swinging with my Eyes Closed were slotted between classics, and performed with rise-from-the-ashes triumph to an audience who knew every word. All night, there was line-dancing, accordions, maracas, stunning fiddle solos, dancers, drum interludes, and the outfits dazzled – sparkling gowns, the iconic top hat and coat, a sparkling embroidered catsuit with knee-high fur boots.
Twain’s voice might have more rasp with age, and surely bolstered by backing tracks, but as she sailed through her crescendos and key-changes there were few signs of the damage she – and doctors – once feared might be irreparable. Gazing into the crowd, Twain said, surprised, “lots of you must have been only six or 10 years old when Come on Over was released”. Long before Taylor Swift, Twain bridged the gap between country and pop in stylish, sophisticated, and sometimes brilliantly silly ways. How wonderful it is, decades later, that she still remains an icon.