Shania Twain is Still The One.
Let’s hope Shania Twain considers her final tour the same way, say, Cher or the Rolling Stones do (they are, respectively, on their 27th and 45th farewells) and that her concert Saturday night really wasn’t one of the very last chances to catch this remarkable entertainer live on stage.
After a ten-year absence from touring, and following a two year residency at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, Canada’s First Lady of Country showed why she is one of the biggest stars in the world with an epic, energetic and note-perfect show at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre.
She had the sold-out audience of nearly 6,000 on their feet and in the palm of her hand from the opening notes of “Rock This Country,” and by the time she finished “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under,” with amazing accompanying lighting and pyrotechnics, there wasn’t a single person in the Barn on Blanshard who didn’t think they’d already got their money’s worth. And this was only three songs into her 18 song set, mind you.
The two-hour show was polished and professional and well-structured. Shania Twain was backed by a tight seven piece band, and the visual effects were used sparingly and augmented without ever overshadowing her performance.
One of my favorite parts of the concert was an acoustic section featuring “Today Is Your Day,” “No One Needs To Know,” and a haunting version of “From This Moment” that started simply with Shania accompanying herself on guitar and encouraging the audience to join her in singing what has to be the most-requested wedding song in the history of music.
The audience was a nice mixture of ages and genders. There was such a healthy First Nations contingent (Shania has always been proud of the Aboriginal heritage of her Step-father and siblings) for a moment I thought the Victoria Shamrocks was playing lacrosse. There were young girls in sparkly tops, young men in non-ironic plaid shirts and healthy collection of what would be called ‘the 905-ers’ in Toronto or ‘the Bridge and Tunnel crowd’ in New York and who I will refer to as “Langfordians.”
Opening act Bastian Baker, from, of all places, Switzerland, had the unenviable task of warming up the crowd and keeping them entertained while they made their way from the beer line-ups to their seats, and when I say that his brand of peppy Country pop sounded like the Muppet Show’s Swedish Chef was fronting a Barenaked Ladies tribute band, I mean that as a compliment. Baker also joined Shania in a duet of “Party For Two,” and did a nice job of harmonizing.
If Shania Twain is true to her word and this was her last and final tour, then it was a celebration that those of us lucky enough to witness will always remember. One of the finest concert experiences of my life.
by Ian Ferguson