Pop review: Shania Twain at Birmingham Arena

A relentlessly upbeat two-hour banquet of fist-pumping positivity anthems from the country-pop diva

The Times - UK
By Stephen Dalton
September 25, 2018

Like a veteran prizefighter stepping back into the ring, Shania Twain began her Birmingham show with a dramatic march through the crowd, flanked by burly security guards, to the pounding rhythm of Queen’s We Will Rock You. Before she even arrived on stage, the 53-year-old Canadian country-pop diva was acting like an undefeated heavyweight champion. Pure theatre, but her chutzpah was admirable.

In the 14 semi-dormant years since she last toured Britain, Twain has suffered various career setbacks, including temporarily losing her voice and divorcing her husband and long-time musical partner, Robert “Mutt” Lange. In 2011, in a twist that would sound implausible even in a corny country ballad, she married the Swiss executive whose ex-wife’s affair with Lange ended her first marriage.

Named after her first studio album in 15 years, the transatlantic chart-topper Now, Twain’s latest world tour seems designed to prove that revenge is a dish best served fabulous. Ideally in a sumptuous selection of shimmery gowns and glittery catsuits.

Twain fleetingly addressed her past marital woes in Birmingham in Poor Me, a torrid flamenco-tinged weepie that she jokingly called “my little pity-party moment”. Yet this was a rare melancholy interlude in an otherwise relentlessly upbeat two-hour banquet of fist-pumping positivity anthems with inspirational titles such as Life’s About to Get Good, I’m Alright and Up!

Twain’s folksy feel-good attitude rang a little hollow at times. Despite her likeable glamazon-next-door persona, she lacks superstar charisma. Fortunately the real star of this show was the high-tech stage production, consisting of five large illuminated cubes with video-screen walls that reconfigured constantly into dazzling pop art shapes. The incongruous effect was more futuristic techno-rave than wholesome country-pop rodeo, but still spectacular.

Considering that she is one of the biggest-selling artists in history, Twain has written surprisingly few planet-conquering classics. There were anodyne lulls in this set that not even the Vegas-sized staging could enliven. However, there were just enough crowd-pleasing hits to keep excitement levels bubbling, including the voluptuous romantic ballad You’re Still the One, which Twain performed atop a revolving podium, and her two immortal hen-party anthems, That Don’t Impress Me Much and Man! I Feel Like a Woman. Not quite a knockout show, but this was still a punchy comeback by a champion.
Belfast SSE Arena, September 29; 02 Arena, London SE10, October 2-3