Country legend Shania Twain gets ready to leave the stage

Victoria Times Colonist
By Mike Devlin
October 22, 2015

What: Shania Twain with Wes Mack
When: Saturday and Sunday, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre, 1925 Blanshard St.
Tickets: $160.50, $180.50 and $200.50 at the Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre box office, or 250-220-7777

Even though she’s still the one for country music fans, Shania Twain’s first tour in more than a decade is expected to be her last.

Country music lovers will be sad to see her go — Twain is one of the most successful female acts of all time, and an individual whose triumph over adversity has won her a dedicated legion of fans.

But there’s a silver lining to the news of Twain’s retirement from the stage, especially where local audiences are concerned.

Twain, who turned 50 in August, is booked to play two shows in Victoria this weekend, the precursor to what is, at this point, one of her last live performances. Twain is expected to announce a European leg to the Rock This Country tour in 2016, but as it stands, the last date on her agenda is an appearance in Kelowna on Tuesday.

Could that be it for the most famous person ever to come from Timmins, Ont.? Perhaps. If so, her two nights in Victoria — the first of her career — are positioned to have extra emotional oomph.

Her current tour, which started June 5, almost never happened. After a hugely successful two-year residency at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, which grossed more than $43 million US between December 2012 and December 2014, Twain had expected to stay away from the stage for good.

“I initially thought Las Vegas would be my last,” Twain said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, prior to the launch of the Rock This Country tour.

“Not that I was saying that publicly, but it was what I was thinking in my head. It was such a challenge getting back up on stage, getting my voice in order, getting my confidence back up. The whole mountain was pretty high.

“I figured if I could accomplish that, then I’d be very happy and I’d end on a high. [But] I felt it was a strange way to finish my performance career, not being able to get around to the people. I want to feel that again.”

Twain was no doubt on a high following the release of her acclaimed fourth album, Up!, in 2002. However, the tour to support Up! ended in 2004 and soon after she began having problems with her voice. One year of respite became two, and when her marriage to her longtime producer and co-writer, Mutt Lange, dissolved in 2008 following his infidelity — her best friend being the other woman — Twain quit performing altogether.

The combination of physical and emotional stress sent her into hiding in Switzerland. It also resulted in the loss of her voice to a condition known as dysphonia, which impairs a person’s ability to produce voice sounds. Twain had physical therapy to fix the problem and mounted her Las Vegas residency in 2012 as her comeback vehicle.

“My voice was giving me a lot of problems,” Twain told The Wall Street Journal. “I was having a lot of problems projecting the sound. I didn’t have any problems with my vocal cords. I don’t have any surgical problems that are more typical for singers. The problem was more mysterious and took a lot of rehabilitation.”

She recently cancelled two dates on her current tour, which prompted speculation she was suffering from wear and tear to her voice. It turned out to be a respiratory infection.

The tour has continued and Twain has received some of the best reviews of her career.

If her current concerts (100 minutes in length and 18 songs deep) wind up being some of her last, fans will always have her music to see them through.

She is leaving no hit unturned on stage these days, from Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under? and You’re Still the One to That Don’t Impress Me Much, but Twain has indicated that she will have a new album for release next year. It will be her first in almost 14 years.

Given her past accomplishments, a new album from Twain will add further trophies and titles to a career that is well-populated with them.

She’s already one of the best-selling artists of all time and is the best-selling female artist in the history of country music. She is the only artist to have three consecutive recordings sell more than 10 million copies apiece.

Twain said in her chat with The Wall Street Journal that country music is in good hands when she leaves for good.

“There’s a lot of great guys out there now. There’s room for girls to come out strong again.”