Concert Review with PHOTOS: Shania Twain

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By Janine Swail

Artist: Shania Twain

Date / Venue: Tuesday December 18th, 2018 - Spark Arena, Auckland

 Canadian Country Diva Shania Twain performs in NZ for the first time

Shania is no stranger to NZ declaring she has been visiting our ‘beautiful country’ for the last 15 years. A little surprising then that last night marked her inaugural sell out show at the Spark Arena, nonetheless, worth the wait. Just like our favourite and loved house guests, Shania made her entrance through the back door as a raucous drum solo followed a spotlight from the back of the stadium and my first sighting of this classy country diva was a bobbing brown Stetson through the crowd – Shania was in the house!

As she arrived on stage she appropriately kicked off with a newer hit ‘Life’s About To Get Good’ but then quickly moved on to a heart-warming ‘Come On Over’ as the largely ‘Girls night out’ crowd swayed and crooned along. Now fully supported by an eclectic country rock band with fiddles, accordians, and the solid base, electric and drum trio, as well as a team of dancers Shania appeared to relax into the set encouraging the crowd to get up and dance.

Before performing what she explained was her ‘drinking song’ Poor Me, Shania candidly talked about her heartache and hardships over the years and how writing music had helped her vent and get through the dark days. This was followed by two back to back classics ‘Don’t Be Stupid’ and ‘That Don’t Impress Me Much’ and by this stage the audience was on its feet.  As I sang along, being taken back to a former life (Shania was on my favourite playlist as I backpacked Australia in 1999) I did laugh a little at the bad Irish dancing being performed by the dancers on stage. This was then followed by the popular Kiss Cam gimmick, which the crowd loved as Shania left the stage for yet another costume change. Every new outfit, probably totalling 10+ by the end of the show was diva-esque and dazzling and I couldn’t help thinking how well she carried off every single one. Always rockin boots or heels, her solid sexy confidence would inspire any woman regardless of age. But yet, she was authentic, expressing her love of meeting ‘real’ people on her tour as she brought two lucky fans onto her acoustic stage for a chat and the compulsory selfie. The crowd burst into an unprompted happy birthday song as one fan explained to Shania that she had come on her own to celebrate her 50th birthday. I think Shania was chuffed!

The revolving acoustic stage was the backdrop for ‘You’re Still The One’ after which Shania made her way through the now even more adoring crowd to get back to the main stage for ‘More Fun’, and a video music interlude, which showcased brief snippets of her music song videos over the years reminding me of just how iconic this artist was. No wonder she’s sold over 100 million albums and deservedly holds the title for the best-selling female artist in country music history! Appearing back on stage in another sparkling ball gown number she sang a heartfelt ‘From This Moment’ before inviting her Swiss support act Bastian Baker back on stage to perform a duet ‘Party For Two’ and ‘Swingin With My Eyes Closed’ which involved more fun audience participation – arm waves and fist pumps!

The encore was started by a final band interlude which showcased heavy metal and rock talents of various members; notably the electric guitarist and drummer. The crowd knew exactly what their last musical treat was going to be as the feline-themed backdrop and huge video cubes installed at varying heights awaited the final entrance of the night by our Queen of Country Pop. Man! I Feel Like A Woman! did not disappoint. I looked around me, trying to take in the last few minutes of this thrilling night and noticed the true talent of Ms Twain – her ability to have each fan transfixed on her on stage but at the same time performing their own rendition in their hearts and heads. In an age where it’s not easy for women, Shania puts the fun back into women’s sexuality and helps all of us celebrate our femininity as a powerful strength to be reckoned with. Thanks Shania, come back to us soon!

Shania performs again tonight at Spark and Saturday night at the Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin.