“I don’t know if it’s good or bad, but I’m just a stubborn ass girl,” Shania Twain told the crowd at Madison Square Garden before launching into her admittedly rarely played “I Ain’t No Quitter.” Stubborn might be one way to look at it. Having been relatively off the scene for more than a decade, the country superstar recently embarked on her 48-day Rock This Country tour, a jaunt she’s billing as her “farewell” to the road.
Judging by the crowd’s reaction, no one is looking for Twain to disappear any time soon. This is the woman we can credit for country-pop crossover success (Taylor who?) in the Nineties and beyond. Specifically, she’s one of the most successful female artists of all time, selling more than 75 million albums with 17 Top 10 singles. To say she’d been missed is a gross understatement.
And while her time off hasn’t yielded any new hits, it did give her time to polish her extensive catalog. After finishing a two-year residency in Las Vegas, Twain kicked off this tour with a refreshed stage show that panders to exactly what the audience wants: Big hair, big glitter and big, big hits.
The show was a throwback of sorts to when the country in pop-country remained intact. The sweet, irresistible twang of songs like “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?” and “Any Man of Mine” may have aged, but it aged damn well — much like Twain herself. At 49-years-old, Twain’s voice has matured without losing any of its power. She can still rock a pair of thigh-high pink glitter boots better than people half her age. She’s a rare breed of what’s missing in artists today: true talent backed by true showmanship.
Twain kicked off the show in pure stadium-rock fashion with the anthemic “Rock This Country,” rising to the crowd from below the stage surrounded by pyrotechnics. Her band added heft and muscle to songs like “Honey, I’m Home,” “Love Gets Me Every Time” and “Don’t Be Stupid (You Know I Love You)” as she crawled on hands and knees to share her mic with fans.
To further play up audience participation, a rotating stage brought her around to all corners of the venue. Opener Gavin DeGraw (who seemed kind of drunk? Maybe?) joined her for the excellent duet “Party For Two.” But the real highlight of this portion of the show came courtesy of a mechanical bull. Twain mounted the animatronic animal like a seasoned pro for the upbeat “Up!” as a crane elevated it into view, which, naturally, left the crowd elated.
“Music has been my savior,” Twain announced as she settled in with her guitar to the acoustic session of the show, which began with her 2011 single “Today Is Your Day.” “No One Needs to Know” and show highlight “You’re Still the One” followed, prompting the audience to link arms and sing along
The show closed out with a triple threat of power hits: the epic, string-backed “From This Moment,” the sassy kiss-off “That Don’t Impress Me Much” and crowd favorite “(If You’re Not in It for Love) I’m Outta Here.”
“Man! I Feel Like a Woman” closed out the encore, the fiercest example of Twain’s female-empowerment anthems. It’s been nearly a decade since the song was released, but its message — and Twain’s delivery — stays strong. If it’s her prerogative to have a little fun, we hope she’ll be back to share it with us again very soon.