Photographs by Lee-Ann Richer.
Budweiser keeps bringing us the icons! Especially Canadian Icons! They have hosted some of the best concerts I’ve seen and they set the bar even higher on June 19th, 2015. Outside the venue, the lineups started early. The tour buses and trailers occupied a large portion of Budweiser’s parking lot which made me think the staging was going to be massive. I was right.
Shania Twain is back on tour and doing it larger than life. But don’t think this lady has been doing nothing for the last few years! She has not been touring since 2004; however, she just wrapped up a two year residency at Caesars Palace in Vegas. Now she is hitting the trail for her “Rock This Country” tour. There are 67 performances in five months. A new album is almost completed, and rumor has it that it will be available this October.
Shania Twain has announced that this will be her swan song when it comes to touring; however she told “Rolling Stone Country” that she has “so many other things to do musically”. Hopefully this will be like The Who’s farewell tour (which has lasted how many years?) and we will see more of her! If not, she is showing how big a SHOW can be. This evening had all the glitz and glamour of a Vegas show but she still retains her girl next door personality. A perfect Yin Yang! This show is a Vegas 15 out of 10!
It was no surprise that Budweiser was rammed to the rafters with fans on this first of her two nights’ appearance. The crowd was predominantly young female which shows that Shania and her music has crossed a generation. They were all here to see the legend that changed country music.
The evening started with the song, “Rock This Country”, same name as the tour. Twain erupted from the stage sporting blonde hair and sunglasses. Clad in a fringed leather jacket, a red sequin dress and a matching red metallic microphone, Shania was ready to rock out her Country Classics. She had more screens, props, dry ice, fireworks, lasers and pyro than a KISS show.
Considering Shania hasn’t toured in several years, I’m sure many were wondering, ‘what is she going to look like? what will she sound like? can she still hit the notes?’. The answer is YES! She still has it! She looked great and sounded great.
Her seven piece band was dressed smartly in the “theme colours” of black and red. The sound was full and clear. The band instruments consisted of guitars, acoustic guitars, bass, drums, fiddles, dobro and keys. All class class class!
The opening song was followed by fiddle-featured song “Honey, I’m Home”. The show was ramping up and it was only just starting. Everyone was on their feet, singing, dancing, and in some cases, screaming. Next up were “You Win My Love”, “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under”, “I Ain’t No Quitter” and “Love Gets Me Every Time”. Hit after hit. The evening was packed with all the songs you wanted to hear.
After “Don’t Be Stupid”, Shania gave everyone high fives from the stage and then jumped into a glass cart and was wheeled around the arena. While Shania was zipping around the arena singing “Any Man of Mine” the band shot down the catwalk to a mini stage at the end of the walkway. Naturally everyone had their phones out to grab some awesome photos of the band.
Then the band went into the first of three instrumentals giving Shania Twain time for a costume change. She reentered for “I’m Gonna Getcha Good!” with video images of flames to match the pyro happenings. It was like the heat of an oven when they went off. The pillar flames shot up to the ceiling while the fan shaped ones made a wall of fire on the stage.
One of the many scene changes was next for “Come On Over”. There was a large picture frame projected on the background and her live image was inside the frame. Simple but effective!
The opener for the evening, Wes Mack, joined Shania for the duet “Party For Two”. She introduced him as “Wes Mack, Isn’t he a cutie?” He seemed really energetic and the two of them have wonderful on stage chemistry. It kinda reminded me of the young Bryan Adams/Tina Turner duet.
Just when you might have wondered, ‘what’s next?’, Shania walked toward a saddle that appeared on a crane in centre stage. She strapped herself on the saddle and said it’s all getting better and there is nowhere to go other than up from here! The crane rose up from the stage to lift Shania about the height of the second level (balcony) seats. It extended out over the crowd and did a 360 so everyone in the stands could get a little closer look while she sang “Up”.
Next there was a three song acoustic segment. The first song “Today Is Your Day” was introduced telling us that this was written about six years ago when she was feeling down. She told us that she usually writes when she feels crappy to feel better. While this was happening the background looking like a wall with large lights or shapes with candles in them. This gave the appearance of an old movie house. The front curtain came down to frame the band members, who were all in a row with their acoustic instruments. “No One Needs to Know” picked up the pace a bit with a sing-a-long. The last of the acoustics she played was “You’re Still the One”. She said this song is like an old friend. It was interesting hearing all these emotional and heartfelt stories but sometimes it was a bit hard to hear her speak over all the cheering from the fans.
There was another instrumental, and more outfit changes! “From This Moment On” had these mesmerizing digital images of mirrored leopards, projected on the background. A burst of fireworks finished off “That Don’t Impress Me Much”. Her vocals were strong, on key and full of emotion, all night long. Her performance and the show were both perfect tens!
The closer of the set was “(If You’re Not in It for Love) I’m Outta Here!” It was cool to see both guitarists on either side of the stage playing slide, like bookends. One on a dobro and the other a Flying V. Can’t say I have ever seen someone play upright slide on a flying V like a dobro. Having the pair of telecasters in the centre of these guys looked great!
After the stomps and screams of the fans for a return, the band was back for the last instrumental that sounded like Country metal meets Pink Floyd. Then the guitarist launched the favorite riff in Twains catalogue, “Man! I Feel Like a Woman”. The last costume was a form fitting metal highlight. She wore a black leather bodysuit, thigh high black boots, fishnet stockings and long black gloves. With a final bang red and silver metallic flakes fell from the roof and with a final thank you to the fans, one of the most entertaining 90 min+ shows came to end.
We would like to give a special thank you to Marcy Redmond and Budweiser Gardens for another evening of exceptional country music and country fun!