Published on theMusic.com.au, Nov 2018
Pic by Georgia Head
The path to the Shania Now Tour is a remarkable one. After the singer retired from performing back in 2004, many fans accepted the fact they wouldn’t get the chance to see her again, or for the first time.
Undergoing intense vocal rehabilitation, the Canadian artist not only reemerged stronger than before, but reclaimed her creativity, with her fifth album, 2017’s Now, marking the first LP in which she wrote and co-produced every track.
The crowd impatiently stamped along to the beat of Queen’s We Will Rock You before a spotlight illuminated a platform near the mixing desk on the other side of the room from the stage.
Drummer Elijah Wood kept the beat going with a booming floor tom and tight snare, before Shania Twain appeared at the back of the room, dressed in a sparkling dress and rhinestone-studded black cowboy hat. She slowly made her way through the crowd to her place centrestage, almost although she was hosting an awards night. The winners? Everyone in attendance as soon as the curtain dropped to reveal a classy, retro-yet-modern stage setup.
“Are you ready, Perth?” she said to a lukewarm response. “I SAID… ARE YOU READY, PERTH?”
Kicking off proceedings with a new cut, Life’s About To Get Good, was a bold move, but it was a tune that allowed Twain and her four backing dancers to find their groove.
The song’s suffocating bass eased up for country-pop hit Come On Over, taking fans back to ’97, but its execution wasn’t as tight, with the vocals struggling to find their place amongst an overbearing honky-tonk accordion section.
“There’s no way but up from here,” was an encouraging lyric to hear after an inconsistent start, as the singer slowly rose above the stage on one of five large cubes occupying the space, each side of which had a screen that changed to match the song at hand.
Her “drinking song”, Poor Me, was another insight into the rough path to Now, with the singer truly finding her groove when its chorus kicked in. Guitarist Joshua Ray Gooch introduced the single with a gentle twang before Twain took over and artistic production elements gave the show real, definable character.
Classic country-esque single Don’t Be Stupid (You Know I Love You) had punters boot scootin’ like it was going out of fashion, while Twain paraded in front of a semi-transparent curtain, her backing band behind it, dancing around and on top of the cubes that now resembled a swimming pool.
Megahit That Don’t Impress Me Much didn’t need extreme production to back it up, with its classic, insanely catchy chorus doing the heavy lifting, while Twain and co offered up choreographed attitude to match.
A quick kiss cam interlude to a rock/jazz influenced jam from Wood and it was back into the thick of a country-pop tidal wave with Any Man Of Mine, Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under? and Honey, I’m Home; dual fiddles weaving an emotional tapestry of their own in the background.
“I never enjoyed being in the spotlight,” she revealed, explaining her unique entrance. Getting up-close and personal with fans, face-to-face, helps her connect more with her audience and feel more comfortable.
Another drastic change of pace, the band offered up huge rock riffs, ’80s-inspired synth and gut-wrenching backing vocals, all of which was a carefully orchestrated diversion for Twain, who quietly made her way to the back of the room to appear on the small platform Wood opened the show on.
“This is what I call my reunion song with you,” she said, getting nostalgic again. “Because tonight and forever, Perth, You’re Still The One.”
With an acoustic guitar in hand and thousands of phone lights pointed her way, Twain stripped things back for a set highlight.
She picked up a few audience members on her way back to the front, bringing them up on stage and introducing them while taking selfies. “This is my favourite part of the show,” she enthused.
The meet and greet transitioned into her “sexy number”, More Fun, with one of the gentlemen who followed her from the crowd helping her up onto a piano.
It was back to the nostalgia, this time via a medley of music videos on the big screen, and the trip down memory lane continued with From This Moment On, highlighting it was her pop ballads that translated best to an arena show – her upbeat country-pop hits were a close second.
“My dreams came true because of you” echoed throughout the venue, reinforcing the sentiments she’d be offering up to longtime fans all night.
It’s hard to beat the emotional intensity of a ballad with a well-timed key change, but I’m Gonna Getcha Good!, with its accompanying neon/Tron aesthetics, came close.
Opening act Bastian Baker returned to the stage, taking on Billy Currington’s vocal parts for duet Party For Two, which injected a fresh energy into the set that carried over into Swingin’ With My Eyes Closed. It was the ultimate genre mash-up, borrowing from reggae, country and pop, which rendered the audience’s reaction splintered at best, some bobbing in time while others awkwardly threw their fists in the air.
(If You’re Not In It For Love) I’m Outta Here! pulled things into line but, as the song’s title promised, Twain was gearing up to make an exit.
The band were given their time in the spotlight once more, unleashing a Blue Storm that had guitars shredding and drums booming. It was an interesting but epic transition into the familiar intro riff of Man! I Feel Like a Woman!, a song that had everyone on their feet, screaming along, finishing the evening on a high note.