Shania Twain review – country megastar embraces her hits and hardships

The Canadian singer rocks the mother-and-daughter-packed venue

The Guardian
By Bob Gordon
December 2, 2018

RAC Arena, Perth - 3 out of 5 stars

Everybody loves the drum beat of Queen’s We Will Rock You. What with the Bohemian Rhapsody biopic currently dominating silver screens, that song from 1977 has become somehow very now.

And so it is that the “Shania Now” Australian tour opens on Friday with the song soaring through the PA and 19-year-old drummer Elijah Wood picking up the pounding beat on a floor tom from a B-stage in front of the sound desk.

Then Shania Twain enters in a black glittery dress and cowboy hat. Not on the main stage, but from way back in the venue via the nosebleed seats. It’s a gesture that immediately endears the near-capacity audience to the Canadian megastar, as she walks to the front (surrounded by security, obviously). Life’s About To Get Good, as the opening song suggests, and the weekend officially starts.

Twain gradually reveals her band with each new song. Backing vocalists accompany her on the opening, before giant cubes separate to reveal her band on acoustic guitar, accordion, percussion and finally full drum kit for the calypso-sounding Come On Over.

Up! sees the singer stand on one of the cubes as it ascends. “We have to come down to get to Australia, but we are moving up in the world!” Twain shouts. This song and the next, Poor Me, sees Twain address the downs in her life – her marriage breakup with producer and writer Robert “Mutt” Lange (he left Twain for her best friend) and the loss of her voice causing a 15-year gap between album releases – but it doesn’t come across as self-pity, more an acknowledgement that everyone has their “stuff” to get through.

The mood threatens to get a little sombre, but the country call of Don’t Be Stupid (You Know I Love You) rouses the audience, who give themselves totally to the 1997 hit That Don’t Impress Me Much.

The five cubes move into a crossword formation and turn into screens emblazoned with leopard-print projections as mothers in the audience high-five and dance with their daughters.

A twin violin intro to Any Man of Mine stills things for a moment before Twain re-enters the fold in a new black outfit with red knee-high boots (there’s to be many a wardrobe change). The tone moves from Celtic to country with Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under? and Honey, I’m Home, the latter featuring some heavy guitar work. That guitar crunch comes under the spotlight in a segue number, Ka-Ching!, which borders on Van Halen-esque.

What’s clear is empowerment and loyalty are two things very important to Twain. From the inclusion of gay male audience members, Ryan, Dan and Stephen (accompanied by “Claire from Claremont” who just happened to follow them onstage) for More Fun, to duetting with support act Bastian Baker on the good-timey Party For Two and Swingin’ With My Eyes Closed, it can be heard in the sincerity of Twain’s voice that she’s been through a lot and is glad to have made her way through it.

Fittingly, the night’s final song, Man! I Feel Like a Woman, is a triumphant celebration of all those things.