Shania: Expect a 'very rock and roll tour
By Brian Mansfield
June 4, 2015
"Nobody's going to be looking at me!"
That was Shania Twain's first reaction when she got a peak at the stage for her new tour.
"The lights are like fireworks," says the 49-year-old singer. "The way they move, it's like I'm on stage with lighting and screen robots. It's fun for me, although most of it happens above me and behind me."
For the past two weeks, Twain, who dominated the country and pop charts during the '90s and early 2000s with crossover smashes like You're Still the One, From This Moment On and Man! I Feel Like a Woman!, has been in Las Vegas, rehearsing on her set in preparation for the launch of her Rock This Country Tour Friday.
The lighting rig and video screens aren't the only mobile part of her set, created by stage designer Raj Kapoor. While Twain has access to the audience from the main part of her stage, another part will take her deeper into the halls. "I designed this little contraption that gets me all the way around the audience," she says. "I get to slap some hands and look people in the eye."
The Rock This Country Tour begins at Seattle's KeyArena. It then runs through a string of Canadian dates before returning to New York's Madison Square Garden on June 30. She currently has shows scheduled through mid-October.
True to its name, Twain's first tour in 11 years will offer "a very rock and roll show." She'll still have the fiddles that were so much a part of her sound when she was the country music's top-selling female artist, she says, "though we are going heavier on the guitar sounds."
Twain has cranked up the guitars in country once already, in 1995 when she and then-husband Robert "Mutt" Lange, previously known for producing AC/DC and Def Leppard, collaborated on the first of three albums, The Woman In Me. That album and two subsequent releases, 1997's Come On Over and 2002's Up!, combined country tradition and classic-rock sounds in a way that sold tens of millions of copies and paved the way for harder-rocking country acts such as the Dixie Chicks and Jason Aldean.
Twain's 16-year marriage to Lange ended in a bitter divorce in 2010.The songs they created together, which comprise a signifcant part of her set list, still have the power to trigger painful memories.
"It's trying, and there's a lot of sadness there," she says. "Performing is a very emotional experience. It's a little like, 'We're all together, let's go through our highs and lows together tonight.' You reminisce through all the good and the bad. Maybe 'therapeutic' is the word I'm looking for."
Twain says the Rock This Country Tour will be her last. Initially she planned to retire from performing following a two-year residency at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas that ended last year . "Even if I never told anybody else, I was already going through those emotions of 'This is it; I'm not coming back to the stage,'" she says.
She has, however, started work on a new album, but she's reluctant to say when it might be released.
Might she ever get on a stage and perform again once this tour's done? She won't rule out that possibility, but "I'm so focused on making records right now, I don't even know what that would be," she says. "Maybe I never will. I don't want to say one way or the other, because what if I never do?"