Shania Twain rocks her home country at ACC: review
Twain pulled out all the stops in a dazzling visual spectacle, during her first of three Toronto appearances on the Rock This Country tour.
By Nick Krewen
June 25, 2015
Four out of Five stars
June 24 at the Air Canada Centre.
It seems that her two-year stint in Vegas has taught our Shania a few tricks of the performance trade.
In the homegrown pop-country superstar’s first Toronto concert appearance in 11 years, and the first of three at the Air Canada Centre (the second happens Thursday night and the third ends the Rock This Country tour on Oct. 11), Shania Twain pulled out all the stops and then some, in terms of production value.
No dollars were spared in the execution of fireworks, fireballs, a “flying” saddle, a gigantic metallic fan, videos galore and a dazzling light show, providing a glitz overload that dwarfed both previous Twain globetrotting treks in terms of spectacle.
The 19-song, 100-minute show that found Twain fronting seven musicians, including fellow Canuck instrumental wunderkind Cory Churko on guitar, keys and fiddle, also wasn’t short on glam, thanks to the handful of costume changes the extremely photogenic, and now blond, singer and songwriter donned during the show.
This is where the other Vegas influence made its presence known: The Timmins-raised singer dressed more provocatively than on prior tours, emerging from below the stage for the opening “Rock this Country” and “Honey, I’m Home” wearing a leather-fringed jacket, sunglasses, glittering ruby top and hot pants, and thigh-high boots.
A leg-baring silver-and-black number replaced that outfit, but the biggest eye opener was the encore of “Man! I Feel Like A Woman!,” where the 49-year-old wore a metallic corset seemingly extracted from the 1968 sci-fi film Barberella.
The statement being flaunted with the multiple Grammy- and Juno Award-winning performer’s sudden embrace of her 50 Shades of Shania persona is one of relaxed confidence, something that was more evident throughout the evening as she rocked along with her band, sometimes playing air guitar during the more aggressive numbers and letting loose.
Twain’s voice, although good, wasn’t picture perfect: she occasionally wavered on pitch for “Come On Over” and transitioned weakly over a couple of mid-song key changes, but her epic performance of “From This Moment” or the up-tempo “That Don’t Impress Me Much” erased audience impressions of any inconsistencies.
Of course, it helps if you have a catalog of wall-to-wall smashes to rely on, as Twain does. On Wednesday night, they came often and relentlessly — “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under,” “Don’t Be Stupid (You Know I Love You),” “Any Man Of Mine,” “I’m Gonna Getcha Good” — perfect pieces of country pop confection lovingly and meticulously crafted by Twain and her ex-husband, producer Mutt Lange. These infectious earworms modernized the sound and image of country music forever.
After all, country music’s most famous belly button barer is the original Taylor Swift, producing her visual and musical statements of female empowerment and experience back in the ’90s and ’00s with songs and videos that continue to impact and resonate with women decades later, if the 70-30 female-to-male ratio at her opening ACC date is any indicator.
Twain successfully made the transition from country to pop, clearing the path for Swift two decades later. But unlike Swift, Shania achieved this with much less concert mileage: Rock This Country is only her third major tour, and according to Twain in interviews, her very last.
It’s certain her audience doesn’t want to see her go: they lit up with ear-to-ear smiles, stood up and cheered the moment she arrived on stage, gave her a prolonged standing ovation during the first break, and sang, danced and pumped their fists to every memorable hit.
You could see 14,100 chests swelling with Canadian pride as their beloved Twain expressed how good it was to be back in her home province, explaining how she started out by playing bars and house parties, winding up at the Deerhurst Resort and eventually with a Nashville recording contract.
“I’m a tomboy girl from Timmins — I still can’t believe I’m here,” she exclaimed. “I’m so grateful to be back.”
The wild reception accorded Twain suggested they were equally grateful to be sharing her presence in an arena, celebrating the spectacular success of one of their own.
As for Twain’s claim that this will be her final tour, despite a new album on the horizon, there was an interview conducted many years ago where she adamantly told this writer she’d never author an autobiography.
The fact that "From This Moment On" exists proves that anyone can change their minds.