Shania Twain brought her Now World Tour to Los Angeles’ Staples Center Friday night (Aug. 3) for a glitzy, fan-pleasing spectacle that saw the superstar running through her seemingly endless bounty of hits.
Twain knows her strengths, and while she kicked up her heels occasionally, she left the real moves to her cadre of backup dancers and singers who brought just the right combo platter of cheeky cheesiness (Riverdance one minute, Daisy Dukes the next, anyone?) and true talent to several numbers. She also kept the chatter to a minimum and focused on the songs, which was good because despite a patina of warmth and affection, Twain was still awkward when it came to actually interacting with her fans.
Other than the occasional fiddles and touch of twang, there’s never been much that was actually country about Twain’s music, despite her dominance on the country charts in the ’90s and early 2000s — and this show was a rock show, replete with thundering drums and screaming guitars.
Five highlights from the concert:
Twain knows how to make an entrance… and an exit: She started the concert by descending from the first level of the arena to the floor to a stomping drum beat and crossed the width of the arena before taking the stage, slapping hands with exhilarated fans along the way. She launched into “Life’s About To Get Good,” and then, two hours later, she literally disappeared from stage as she sang “I’m outta here,” the final line from “(If You’re Not in it For Love) I’m Outta Here.”
Flying High: She’s certainly not the only artist to soar over the audience these days — P!nk had a similar moment in her high-flying act at Staples in May — but one of the evening’s best moments came when Twain, sitting on a swing made out of a guitar case, slowed the pace down and flew over the audience for “Soldier” (as footage from Thank You For Your Service, the movie that featured the track, unspooled). She then descended to the B-stage mid-arena just long enough to grab an acoustic guitar (the only time she played an instrument all night) for a sweet version of Grammy Award-winning “You’re Still The One,” as people turned on the flashlights on their phones, waving them high overhead.
Feeling Low: While Twain never spoke directly about her former husband and producer Mutt Lange leaving her for her best friend, she didn’t skirt around the pain she felt. Before launching into “Poor Me” from 2017’s Now, which includes the line “I wish he’d never met her/Then everything would be the way it was,” she talked about songs as “self therapy… I decided I would share my lowest low. Let people know they’re not alone,” adding that she found the song “cleansing now.” Similarly, she talked about the inspiration she now finds in “I’m Alright,” another tune from Now that details her devastation. Both provided moving moments of honesty and authenticity that can’t be easy for Twain to revisit. Without ever using the word, she declared herself a gritty survivor.
Moving Parts: From the first note, the production was a character in the show. Five modular cubes filled the stage and were used inventively throughout the night. For “Up!,” Twain climbed steps to the top of a cube that then rose 20 feet. Other times the cubes would line up together as a video screen or band members would appear on the top of them.
Aging Well: Twain’s songs, most of which are full-grown adults having first arrived in the mid-‘90s, still sound remarkably fresh. Her encore, 1997’s “Man, I Feel Like a Woman” felt as fun 21 years later as it did long ago with its irresistible play on words and uplifting message of female empowerment. It remains a declaration of triumph. The same could be said of Twain herself.