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Review: Shania Twain in Concert Recalls Glory Days


New York Times
By Jon Pareles
July 2, 2015


UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Everything shone brightly when Shania Twain performed at Nassau Coliseum here on Wednesday night. After a long residency in Las Vegas, she is back on the road for her first tour in over a decade — one that she has said will be her last. She brought Las Vegas with her. She had blond hair, sequined minidresses, thigh-high boots, banks of lasers, tall video screens and bursts of fireworks. For “Up!,” the title song of her blockbuster 2002 album, she was literally back in the saddle, one that was mounted on a cherry picker to lift her up and closer to the audience.

The show was a reminder of Ms. Twain’s heyday as country’s crossover queen in the 1990s, when she sold tens of millions of albums and spearheaded country’s move into arena rock. She polished a high-concept persona: a smiling, sexy, hardheaded, down-to-earth, one-man woman who’d tell her guy, in one song, “Don’t Be Stupid (You Know I Love You).” Her music moved between honky-tonk tradition and pop songs undergirded by big drumbeats and hard-rock guitars. Many of her hits switched from rock to country midway through; by the time she released her most recent studio album, “Up!,” she offered the entire album in country, pop (leaning toward rock) and “world” (Bollywood-influenced) versions. (When she sang “I’m Gonna Getcha Good!” from that album, the arrangement was a medley of all three.)

But in 2004, Ms. Twain withdrew from performing, reporting trouble with her voice. “Not so long ago, I thought I’d never get back on the stage again,” she told the audience on Wednesday. “I lost my mojo and my courage.” In 2010 she divorced her producer and songwriting partner, Mutt Lange, and has since remarried. (In an odd wardrobe choice, she sang “From This Moment On” — which works as a wedding song — in a long black dress.)

Eventually, Ms. Twain received treatment for her vocal cords. She released a single in 2011, “Today Is Your Day” — a self-help ballad that she wrote, she said onstage, “to cheer myself up” — to inaugurate her Las Vegas run. That was the newest song in her set, which relied on many hits. Some, like “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?,” were still grounded in country and Cajun music; she had fiddles and pedal-steel guitar for those. Yet most songs also had a walloping beat to kick them off.

Ms. Twain, at 49, isn’t the same singer she was before what she called her sabbatical. Her voice has lost some of its perky sweetness; it has a rasp in it now, and she sings some of her hits in lower keys. There was strain in songs that had been playful, and there were out-of-tune patches. But she brought a more seasoned conviction to the elegantly constructed “You’re Still the One,” and her new roughness suited rockers like “(If You’re Not in It for Love) I’m Outta Here!” and the moody whisper of “Don’t!” Ms. Twain is working on a new album, her first without Mr. Lange. With luck, it will reveal her latest, grown-up mojo.