Authentic Shania Twain erupted CN Centre
Prince George Citizen
By Frank Pebbles
October 23, 2015
The queen of country hit the CN Centre stage Thursday in a thunder of drums and flash of pyrotechnics. Was this Lee Aaron making a triumphant comeback, or the little giant from Timmins who became the most successful female country artist in the history of the world?
Shania Twain was criticized heavily in her early breakout days during the early/mid-1990s for being more rock 'n' roll than country, but it all felt perfect in the concert setting.
It always was unfair criticism anyway. Twain has never shirked her country duties. Steel guitar, blue-collar lyric themes, and fiddles were never hidden in her mixes - not on the megaselling albums and not in concert. In fact there were even moments of triple-fiddle on Thursday night.
Since Twain had never been to Prince George before, this was a debut experience for many of her legions of fans. Those who've followed her the breadth of her career know that performing live was thought to be a scandalous weakness - that she didn't have the vocal chops to do the big shows. Well, Prince George, how did that sound to you? Did she pull it off?
No, she did not land every single note right on the pitch mark but she was constantly moving (partially to be out of the way of the pillars of fire and jets of flame that spurted frequently from the floor of the stage) and engaging with the audience. She sometimes lacked the full power you might have memorized from the album tracks. She sometimes changed up the timing of the lyrical delivery just a little, or let the vowel sounds turn soft when all you've ever heard was the hard version on the stereo. What these live moments did, though, was prove just how "live" she was, without the help of auto-tuning or lip-synching to backtracks. We were getting an authentic show, and when those money notes were called for, they rose and soared above the thousands of fans and throngs of critics who have by now melted away into irrelevant history.
The fans also got a truckload of visual experiences. There was probably more fire at the Jason Aldean concert a couple weeks ago, but you could feel Shania's heat in the cheap seats (not that there were any of those - yikes, I think some fans had to auction vital organs to afford this one). She also had trap doors in the stage, elevators, huge screens showing multimedia effects, multiple costume changes into clothes so bedazzled they could distract the Hubble Telescope, two giant animated fire cats you couldn't stop staring at, and a wild pile of Shania personality.
She certainly isn't afraid of people, despite the standoffish tabloid reports. She was back-slapping and high-fiving all over the room, chatting frequently between songs. She sang Happy Birthday to 11-year-old Samantha. She even went for a wander through the crowd, but sadly had to do so in a plexiglass cart that covered her legs and waist. You best believe she didn't come up with that idea because all the fans in past crowds maintained their respect for her personal space, yet, out she went for a quick visit on the floor.
The chatter in the seats around me eventually got to speculation on the encore. What was she saving for the finale? So much hit material got jammed into the night, we all lost track. So when the time came, and the drums thundered again, and the guitars screamed, and the fire erupted, my eyes popped as Twain reappeared, this time wearing a chrome breastplate and the screens emblazoned with stylized steel letters - ST. The song was Man I Feel Like A Woman, but the spirit was all Lee Aaron, and I did, I did feel like a woman for that five minute hurricane. And then it was over. Everyone was spent, smiling and satisfied that whatever the style or whatever the history, pixieish Shania Twain was as big as a mountain, wild as a storm, and mesmerizing as a forest fire.
What's not country about all that?