Shania Twain, Verizon Center, Washington DC, July 21, 2015
It has been over 10 years since Shania Twain’s last tour… and her fans have really missed her. During the last decade, Shania has gone through a lot…. A child, a broken marriage, losing her singing voice, working to get it back, and eventually performing a very successful two year residency at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. But her fans were still left wondering, would there be new music?… would there be a tour? Just when most people assumed the answer was “No”… the big announcement came this year! Shania announced she was working on new music, and there would be an extensive tour before the album’s release! But the news was bittersweet, as Shania announced the new tour would be her last…
The 44 city North American tour was to be called “Rock This Country”, after the song of the same title on 1997s “Come On Over” album. The song itself is a good description of Shania’s music. Although she has always called herself a country artist, her sound has always had a heavy rock influence… kind of like Def Leppard crash landing into country music. This blend has been criticized by some but loved by millions… myself included, as I’ve been a devoted Shania fan for over 2 decades. The implication with the tour’s name, was that this final outing would have an even heavier rock edge….. so I, along with thousands of eager fans bought our tickets and waited for the day of the show to arrive!
The show I attended was at the Verizon Center in Washington DC; a large basket ball arena that is frequently converted to a concert hall. Shania’s stage was on one end of the venue with a catwalk that extended out into the audience. The opening act was Gavin DeGraw. I’d heard of him before, but never really followed his music. He played a ten song set of what I would describe as bluesy rock. I didn’t recognize any of his original songs, but I did recognize two cover songs he played; Billy Joel’s “Big Shot” and Brian Adam’s “Heaven”. I thought he had a good voice, a good band, and thought he was an energetic performer on the songs where he wasn’t seated behind the piano. I can’t say I left a hardcore fan, but I did enjoy his set.
Shania’s set started soon after. The first song was “Rock This Country” which set the theme for the night. Shania’s band took the stage as the song began. The seven musicians (I think it was seven) played drums, guitars, slide guitar, bass, violins, and a variety of other instruments. “Rock This Country” is one of Shania’s hardest rocking songs and she hit the stage in rock and roll style in a short red sequined jumpsuit, fishnet stockings, thigh high boots, red sunglasses, and a black tasseled leather jacket. After briefly ascending and descending on a high tower in the center of the stage, Shania came to the front, proudly threw up metal horns… and then everything started to explode… Now, Shania’s shows have always had some rock style pyrotechnics… but this show definitely went over and above on the pyro… far more than I’ve ever seen at a Shania show before… and the metal head in me loved every minute of it!! The rock style tempo continued with the next two high energy crowd favorites, “Honey I’m Home” and “You Win My Love”.
A nineteen song set was played in all and they included all of her biggest hits. After the leather jacket came off, Shania broke into a set of her more traditional country tunes including: “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under”, “I Ain’t No Quitter”, “Love Gets Me” and “Don’t Be Stupid”. During “Any Man Of Mine”, she traveled around the outer edge of the floor on a moving cart while shaking hands and high fiving audience members. “I’m Gonna Getcha Good” and “Come On Over”, followed after her journey through the fans. Multiple costume changes took place as the show progressed and Shania looked stunning in all of them. Gone were the signature bare midriffs of her younger days, but she still looked like she could have pulled those off if she wanted. She had also dyed her hair blonde, which I really didn’t like, but the show was so good I was willing to give her a pass on that! Gavin DeGraw returned to the stage about mid set to perform the duet from Shania’s Greatest Hits Album, “Party For Two”. This was the first time I’ve seen that song performed live and Gavin made it really quirky and fun.
One of the more memorable numbers came next when Shania straddled a large saddle that had been placed at the beginning of her catwalk. As she started to sing the song “Up”, the saddle was lifted by a giant crane that swung out over the floor of the venue and lifted her up to the level of the fans on the second elevated tier of the arena. This allowed fans at the higher altitudes to get up close and personal. Once Shania landed safely back on the stage, the energy subsided for a bit as we got a seated three song acoustic set. One of these songs was “Today Is Your Day”; a new, uplifting, and emotional song that Shania wrote during the recent difficult period in her life. It was beautiful! The other two were “No One Needs To Know” and “Your Still The One”. The final slow song of the evening was “From This Moment”. It was a stunning number in which Shania came out in a long black gown with the stage shrouded in fog, giving a very ethereal atmosphere to the performance.
The energy cranked back up again for the final two songs of the regular set: “That Don’t Impress Me Much” and “If You’re Not In It For Love”. The crowd roared with approval and we all got to see lots of Shania head banging to the traditional and slide guitars. There was only one encore… “Man, I Feel Like A Woman” and Shania came back to the stage wearing this… ah, short… leather-metal thing that ah…. yeah… I don’t even know how to describe it…. But she looked stunning in it… see for yourself… check out my pictures! The song was played with a much higher energy that I had seen on previous tours and pyro was used with abandon. It was a great way to finish the night!!
The show was insanely good and I had a great time!… and from all the cheering and screaming going on… I think the majority of the audience did as well… especially the girl with the really high pitched scream standing right behind me! But I didn’t mind, it just added to the energy of the night! I’ve seen Shania perform four times previously… and this was the best show yet! But it was, unfortunately, the last. I tried not to think about that as I left the venue. It had been so great to see her perform again after so many years! For those of you out there that have been thinking about going to any of her remaining shows…. DO IT!!!!!!!!!! It’s a great performance and there is no next year!!!!!!!!! We still have some new music to look forward to on her upcoming album… but there is nothing like .. Shania Live!