She still sports a fringed leather jacket, over-the-knee boots and those long, luxurious locks.
Whoa! Wait a minute! Shania Twain is now a blonde.
Whose foils have those roots been under?
After a 12-year hiatus from the road (due to voice and marital problems), Shania is back on tour, for what she says is her final tour. And, frankly, nothing has really changed much.
Her sold-out performance Tuesday night at Target Center felt so familiar. It was the same old songs from the bestselling female artist in country music. The same old sound that (re-) defined country music in the 1990s. OK, a new hair color and a much raspier and slightly deeper voice.
One aspect that hasn’t changed, however, is Shania’s performing instincts. Even after two years of working in a small Las Vegas auditorium before launching this comeback tour, she’s still the one who shows no humor, emotion or personality onstage.
On Tuesday, she almost seemed remote, isolated, distant. Her patter was practiced, not sincere or spontaneous (though she did break script and mention that she’d be back at Target Center on Sept. 26). She didn’t move with ease, energy or attitude (except on the sassy, snarling “I’m Outta Here” and the glorious, rocking finale “Man, I Feel Like a Woman,” though she still doesn’t know how to strut).
She rarely filled her voice with passion (except on the bombastic if pitchy ballad “From This Moment On”) and she couldn’t find the cheekiness that made so many of her lines (e.g., “OK, so you’re Brad Pitt” in “That Don’t Impress Me Much”) such zingers.
Shania knows how to ride the horse that she rode in on. A month before she turns 50, she still wears it well — the fringe, leather, sequins, rhinestones, thigh-high boots and blonde mane with roots showing. Her sumptuous video clips were as responsible for her success as the sound that producer/husband Mutt Lange crafted.
There was plenty of eye candy Tuesday — enough fireworks and flame throwers for a Kiss concert, a plexiglass enclosed ShaniaMobile (like the Popemobile, only less secure) for a tour around the arena (complete with a selfie stick), and a saddle on a motionless mechanical bull on the end of a cherry picker for her bloodless ride over the arena floor (for the song “Up,” duh).
Thankfully, Shania’s sound (well, Lange’s sound) still worked on Tuesday: those big drums (that helped make his previous clients including AC/DC and Def Leppard arena rockers), those heavy guitars (arena rock, again) and enough fiddle passages to suggest that these songs are country.
Actually, a couple numbers were truly country — the honky-tonkin’ “Any Man of Mine” and the fiddle-fueled “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under,” the first song on which she collaborated with Lange (in 1995) and a tune whose lyrics speak of what eventually happened to their marriage (there should be some good songs out of that sometime; she hasn’t put out an album of new material since 2002 but still plans to record).
Shania trotted out opening act Gavin DeGraw for a duet on “Party of Two,” for which she was actually animated for the first time. In fact, she was holding his hand, leading him around the stage and no longer looking at the world through rose-colored glasses.
But, ultimately, it was the roaring, female empowerment anthems that put the woman in Shania Twain. With the power of the music, the potency of the lyrics and the passion of her raspy voice, “Man, I Feel Like a Woman” was what impressed me much.