Shania Twain Delivers a Visually Compelling Career Overview at the Q

Concert Review

It’d be hard to script a better comeback story than that of Shania Twain. The Canadian-born country singer abruptly retired from performing in the early 2000s; she later explained that Lyme disease and dysphonia weakened her voice to the point that she could no longer effectively sing.

After working to restore her voice, she made a triumphant return to the stage by successfully holding down a residency at the Colosseum in Las Vegas, joining the ranks of acts such as Cher, Elton John, Celine Dion, Rod Stewart and others who've had extended runs at the joint.

The stint at the Colosseum inspired a new single and world tour. Her comeback story is also at the heart of last year’s Now, her first full-length studio album in 15 years.

Last night’s concert at the Q was one stop on a world tour in support of the album. You can see a slideshow of photos from the concert here.

Given the nature of her comeback, the performance found Twain in a particularly good mood, and she regularly talked about how her struggles inspired the new material. And yet, given the personal nature of the new songs, the show didn’t resonate on a deep emotional level, though it did offer some pretty fantastic visuals and also featured a terrific supporting cast of dancers and musicians.

Twain started the two-hour show by playing a bit of Queen through the house PA system. Positioned near the back of the arena floor, hard-hitting drummer Elijah Wood hammered away at a single snare while Twain made her way through the floor seats before arriving on stage to sing “Life’s About to Get Good,” a feel-good anthem from Now. Decked out in an elegant silver dress, Twain looked resplendent. Her voice sounded just as it does on the record, but it seemed as if it were run through some kind of effects filter (this was the case on many of the tracks she performed, and it gave the songs a real detached and synthetic feel).

“Come On Over” benefited from acoustic guitar and accordion, and the instrumentation gave the track a folk-y feel; Twain then delivered a hard-rocking rendition of “Up!,” prancing the stage as she sang. Twain often appeared detached while singing, but her backing band and dancers had enthusiasm to spare. Heavy drums and gritty guitar propelled “Poor Me,” a personal tune that Twain sang nonchalantly even though she said the song was “very therapeutic,” and her exuberant dancers animated punchy pop numbers like “Don’t Be Stupid (You Know I Love You)” and “That Don’t Impress Me Much.”

Twain appeared most comfortable singing older numbers such as “Any Man of Mine” and “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?,” more traditional country tunes with simpler arrangements. She effectively talked her way through “Honey, I’m Home,” a bombastic tune that sounded like a country version of a Def Leppard track, and she described “I’m Alright” as a “little bit of a reflection.” She effectively sang the ballad “Soldier” while suspended from a guitar case fashioned into a chair that hung from the rafters.

Fans held their phones in the air while Twain performed the concert centerpiece, “You’re Still the One,” a pretty ballad that featured acoustic guitars. Opener Bastian Baker joined Twain to sing “Party for Two,” and the engaging performer really enlivened the tune (and sang with a bit more energy than Twain).

In terms of visuals, Twain held nothing back — the concert featured a multi-tiered stage and included flashing strobes and lasers. One segment even included clips from some of her more elaborate music videos. The dance routines were well-choreographed, and the show provided a great overview of Twain’s career. But as a live performer, Twain simply isn’t that dynamic. As the saying goes, "it don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing."
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Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
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