Shania Twain sells new songs hard at the X, even if fans just want her old hits

Pioneer Press
By Ross Raihala
May 15, 2018

Shania Twain’s new album don’t impress her fans much, yet they think she’s still the one.

That was one takeaway from the country superstar’s Tuesday night show at St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center. More than 14,000 fans — more women than men, more drinking than not — greeted each one of Twain’s old hits by singing and dancing along or simply cheering. By and large, those same folks clammed up and pulled out their phones whenever Twain performed a song from “Now,” her first album in 15 years.

Much like Garth Brooks, Twain re-emerged a few years back after an extended break from the spotlight. And, like Brooks, she’s struggled to score a hit comeback single, let alone a monster crossover smash a la “You’re Still the One” or “That Don’t Impress Me Much.”

Still, Twain pushed the fresh tracks hard onstage Tuesday, telling rambling stories about them and favorably comparing “More Fun” to what may well be her signature song, “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” And she spared no expense in staging, with five massive, mobile video cubes and numerous other screens flashing colorful graphics, leopard print and live footage. Midway through the show, she even rode a swing above the crowd on the floor.

While introducing “You’re Still the One,” she told the audience she had visited Paisley Park and it was “an interesting feeling” as she knew Prince and he had covered her song. (The Purple One renamed it “U’re Still the One” and recorded it as a duet with Marva King. It never got a physical release, but Prince streamed it on two of his early websites.)

Twain approached all of her material with impressive energy, even when her chirpy voice got overpowered by her band. But too often, she killed the momentum by leaving the stage to change her increasingly convoluted outfits or letting one of her stories go on too long.

Many of Twain’s smashes celebrate down-to-earth friendships, women, having fun and excessive punctuation: “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!”; “I’m Gonna Getcha Good!”; “Up!”; “(If You’re Not in It for Love) I’m Outta Here!” Yet, at times, she seemed a bit distant, detached and lost, like when she invited some fans onstage, asked them where they were from and stared blankly when the crowd booed at the response: “Bismarck, North Dakota.”

It’s also worth noting Twain, who turns 53 in August, launched her comeback tour in 2015, she announced it would be her final outing. After Tuesday’s concert, it seems the only thing Twain should retire from is bothering to record new music.