Shania Twain Brings It Home

Country icon shows the Canuck crowd what she learned in Vegas

NOW Toronto
By Susan G. Cole
June 25, 2015

Good artists play to their strengths. Great artists do that but also stay aware of their weaknesses.

Shania Twain knows exactly what she can and can’t do. She can roll out the hits for 100 minutes and charm the crowd with her modesty: “I’m just a tomboy from Timmins and look at me!” she exclaimed at her rammed Air Canada Centre concert, the first of two this week. (There’s another October 11.)

But she’s no dancer and has often appeared a little awkward onstage. Her two-year stint in Vegas has definitely improved her performance chops – she seems more comfortable in her body. And she showed it off in a big way at the ACC, especially during the encore, Man I Feel Like A Woman, when she was wearing what looked like a metal corset.

But she’s still not gonna dance her face off alongside a chorus line of buff bodies and fill the stage that way. Instead, video is a key player on this tour – on I Ain’t No Quitter, a male dancer strutted his stuff in triplicate behind her – and there’s tons of dried ice, fireworks and pyrotechnics.

Oh, and not surprisingly, she has a brilliant band – whom she didn’t introduce, something she should fix. They played their asses off while singing and striding back and forth across the stage.

And they have a pretty damned good catalogue to work with. Twain honours her country roots – the band boasts three fiddlers – but takes pride in her crossover pop appeal. And taking her cue from the show’s intro – Joan Jett’s I Love Rock ’N’ Roll – she totally rocked out.

After a dark and dramatic instrumental prelude she emerged from under the stage in high boots, short shorts, a sparkly top and red sunglasses to belt out Rock This Country and then powered through the hits – sashaying and tossing her now blonde hair all over the place.

The show offered multiple vantage points. At one point, Twain saddled up on the equivalent to a cherry-picker that hoisted her and then circled above the audience, and at another, she was rolled on a mini stage all around the ACC floor so fans – from teens to octogenarians – could get up close.

She knows enough not to mess with the songs, reproducing almost note-for-note the original tracks. A good thing, too, because her fans know every word, every whoop, every call out and wouldn’t have had nearly as much fun if they couldn’t sing and shout along.

Midway through, Twain sat down with a guitar, her band seated in a semi-circle behind her for an acoustic set that was the show’s highlight – Still The One was killer. 

Crossover appeal and hot videos be damned, that stripped-down segment showcased the best of Twain: great, simple songs sung with heart.