Shania Twain’s energetic debut in Des Moines

STAR 102.5 - KSTZ-FM/Des Moines
By Luke Matthews
August 7, 2015

Shania Twain is a household name, but Thursday night’s stop on her (supposed) farewell “Rock This Country” Tour was actually her coming out party in Des Moines proper. She hasn’t visited the state of Iowa since her 1998 “Come On Over Tour” when she played the then Iowa concert mainstay, Hilton Coliseum.

Mixed into that absence from Iowa was a lengthy hiatus from music in general for Twain. The singer spent more than half a decade in near seclusion in her adopted home in Switzerland. Twain resurfaced in 2011 for a brief reality show run on the OWN Network which featured her first new music in years.

While Twain was gone, the landscape of the country music world that she once owned shifted – or more like “Swift-ed.” The ascension of Taylor Swift as well as the birth of “bro country” makes listening to Twain’s older material seem almost nostalgic.

While her material may be aging, the woman herself doesn’t appear to be at all. As she emerged from the depths of her stage at Wells Fargo Arena to the screams of more than 13,000, she looked just as beautiful and stylish as the Shania most fans remember from the late 90s. Wearing a red sequined off-the-shoulder number, Twain launched into the tour’s namesake from her massive “Come On Over” album. Lasers, smoke, lights, and pyro all greeted the singer to the stage in a show that, these days, actually seems more familiar than fantastic. It became more obvious throughout the show that Twain’s people (or Twain herself) have been keeping tabs on current concert trends when it comes to what bells and whistles people enjoy seeing. All of the staples were there: fire blazing from the stage, large video screens recreating backgrounds of videos, and apparatuses that elevate the singer over the crowd – in Twain’s case it was a saddle that rose out of the stage’s catwalk. The audience especially loved when Twain was wheeled around the arena in the Shania Twain version of a Pope-mobile. Twain’s opening act Gavin DeGraw beat her to a concert staple of asking the audience to get out their cell phones and shine their flashlights toward the stage.

Concert cliches aside, Twain also seemed to be fighting vocal and sound issues throughout. Early in the show, the sound was crisp and very clean, much like what you would hear in her controlled Vegas residency show. It didn’t take long for Twain’s voice to begin to show its age and in an almost reactionary move, the volume of Twain’s backup back increased, sometimes nearly drowning the singer out.

There were some genuinely nice points in the show. The two standout performances also happened to be two of Twain’s biggest hits in “From This Moment On” and the show’s best moment, a solo and acoustic Twain performing “You’re Still the One.” While a good performance, even “From This Moment On” had a strange vocal effect put on the singer that seemed to be wholly unnecessary.

Shania Twain’s body of work speaks for itself. She’s one of the highest selling female artists of all-time and doing so having released only five albums. She’s a wonderful performer and kept the energy up all throughout her 2-hour and 15 minute show. There were a couple of awkward outfit transitions including one where the audience was treated to a muted version of her song “Don’t” while visuals of the singer posing in slow motion, almost like a lingerie or perfume commercial played on the giant screens.

Devoid of flash, Gavin DeGraw opened the show with fantastic energy. In addition to beating Twain to the flashlight punch, he was also the first to venture into the crowd to sing his hit, “I Don’t Wanna Be.”

Shania Twain may have made her one and only arena stop in Des Moines on Thursday night and it was a thriller for the fans in attendance. While ageless in her energy and appearance, vocally, the country/pop superstar is showing why she may be walking away from the stage. It made for a unbalanced night with tons of flash and substance. That just don’t impress me much.


Rock This Country!
Honey, I’m Home
You Win My Love
Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?
I Ain’t No Quitter
Love Gets Me Every Time
Don’t Be Stupid (You Know I Love You)
Any Man of Mine
Ka-Ching (Outfit change interlude)
I’m Gonna Getcha Good!
Come On Over
Party for Two (with Gavin DeGraw)
Today is Your Day
No One Needs to Know
You’re Still the One
Don’t (Outfit change interlude)
From This Moment On
That Don’t Impress Me Much
(If You’re Not in It for Love) I’m Outta Here
Red Storm (Outfit change interlude)
Man, I Feel Like a Woman!