Concert review: Shania Twain rocks Columbus in arena return

Uweekly - Life at The Ohio State University
By Caitlin Essig
October 1, 2015

When Shania Twain dubbed her tour “Rock This Country,” she meant it.

It’s as if Twain woke up from her last, early-2000s tour and strutted directly to the stage at Nationwide Arena Wednesday night. For one, she rocked red-tinted sunglasses and platform heels, and nearly all of her outfit changes included some sort of long, flowy duster, but more importantly, her vocals didn’t miss a beat.

She brought elements of Las Vegas, where she had a two-year run performing exclusively at Caesars Palace up until last year, including sporadic use of pyrotechnics from burning hot flames to fireworks onstage.

Twain kicked off her set by rising up from a platform inside the stage to flames bursting and “Rock This Country!” blaring. From the first note, she was in her element, despite the slight, expected awkwardness of a 50-year-old returning to arena shows after more than 10 years.

The crowd went wild for “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under,” one of her most popular songs. At its close, she addressed the audience for the first time, saying, “It’s good to be back. Thanks for the welcome.”

Of course, this Columbus audience cheered with joy, happy to welcome back the queen of country pop and the best-selling female country artist of all time.

During “Any Man Of Mine,” Twain wheeled into the audience to greet her fans a little more closely, even offering a camera angle from her point of view.

More Vegas elements came into play when Twain mounted a saddle attached to a crane arm that hoisted her … up … into the crowd during her 2002 release “Up!”

But she also brought elements of Nashville, calming down for an acoustic performance with her band, drawing luxurious red theater curtains closed behind her. She broke one of her first hits, “No One Needs To Know,” down to bare bones, turning it into the kind of campfire, clap-your-hands country that’s good for the soul.

One of the best moments of the night followed, when her band exited the stage for her to sing “You’re Still The One” solo. After introducing it, she spoke on how much has changed since she entered country music as an 8-year-old singing for drunk people in bars.

“The greatest thing that has changed is there’s so much more of you now and I feel so appreciated,” Twain said. “It’s really nice to feel appreciated for what you do.”

She urged the audience to sing along, undoubtedly taking them back to drives through country roads to school when this song came on the radio or dancing cheek-to-cheek to it at a high school prom.

Twain closed down her set saving some of the best for last, including the ‘90s classic wedding song “From This Moment On,” and feminist anthem “That Don’t Impress Me Much.”

As if there was any other option, her singular encore song was a heavy rock intro from the band before Twain appeared back on stage to shout “Let’s go girls,” launching into “Man! I Feel Like a Woman.”

This was Vegas meets Nashville meets the Midwest.

This was your mom’s concert, where the largely middle-aged female audience was able to head home just past 10:30 p.m.

This was a powerful, nostalgic show that fans were truly lucky to experience live.

Gavin DeGraw was also there but lost in the shuffle. It happens when you’re touring with one of the world’s best-selling artists of all time.

Twain is one of the original female country music icons of this generation, as much as she is an icon for strong, fierce women in general. It’s good to have her back.