Shania Twain reclaims spotlight at Rogers Arena

Shania Twain at Rogers Arena, 5/5/18

After a 15-year absence, Shania Twain stepped back into the spotlight at Rogers Arena last night (May 5) like she never left. The show was her first of back-to-back Vancouver dates in support of last fall’s Now, her first album since 2002’s Up!.

Now debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums chart. But her return is more remarkable because she came back from a decade-and-a-half of health and relationship issues. She had surgery to reconstruct her larynx after suffering paralyzed vocals due to Lyme disease. She also divorced Robert “Mutt” Lange, who produced three of her albums, because he cheated on her with her best friend Marie-Anne Thiébaud. Twain went on to marry Marie-Anne’s ex-husband Frédéric Thiébaud.

A grand return called for a grand entrance. Twain appeared from the audience at the back of the arena. Security escorted her to the stage where she opened with “Life’s About to Get Good.” The positive message was loud, clear, and fitting.

“For the most part, I like to write about optimism. This song is about all the little crappy moments we just have to have a laugh about,” she said introducing “Up!”. Before the next song “Poor Me”, not her only one about infidelity, she disclaimed that she was “feeling good overall and in a supportive space.”

Despite Twain’s personal tumult, she’s a country pop star – the best-selling female country star and one of the best-selling stars of all time, in fact. So there was plenty of brightness in her set. She celebrated the commencement of summer with the sunny rocker “Come on Over.” She also played the reggae-tinged “Swingin’ with My Eyes Closed” which she called her summer song and said reminded her of rock songs from her teen years.

The most fun came when she put on a cowboy hat, and her band of mobile players busted out fiddles and trumpets. “Don’t Be Stupid (You Know I Love You)”, “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?”, and “Honey, I’m Home” all followed. After a seven-minute drum solo and a kiss cam, fans shot to their feet for “Any Man of Mine”. Twain though seemed to have had the most fun flirting with her male dancers on “That Don’t Impress Me Much”.

As mentioned, Twain’s musicians were free to roam. She too moved around, often away from the main stage. A seat suspended from the ceiling lifted her over a small second stage in the middle of the arena. High up in the air, she sang “Soldier” and “You’re Still the One”.” She also met a couple of fans here: Chad from Hope (who had family from Twain’s hometown of Timmins) and Cameron from Vancouver. After they took selfies together, she asked them to stand in for her bodyguards. Chad and Cameron led her back to the main stage and helped her get on top of her piano where she sang the stormy “More Fun”.

Swiss singer/songwriter Bastian Baker, who opened the show, joined Twain for “Party for Two” and “(If You’re Not in It for Love) I’m Outta here!” Confetti and streamers fired above the audience which signalled the end. But of course, there were encores: her smash hit “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” and “Rock This Country!”

Twain told the Vancouver audience that she pushed through her divorce by remembering how much else she had overcome in her life. Trauma like that which she suffered as a child – physical, mental, and sexual abuse – does not completely heal. And her return hasn’t been free of drama. She told The Guardian two weeks ago she would have voted for Donald Trump because “even though he was offensive, he seemed honest.” Yet despite her entrenched trauma and her PR flub, she managed to return in top form with a show as cheeky and glamorous as her music videos. She has said she was unable to enjoy her prime years because she worked so much. But it certainly looked and felt like Shania Twain had fun at her big Vancouver comeback.

 

Leslie Ken Chu

Leslie Ken Chu

Contributor