Shania Twain's international appeal was in full force at Tampa's Amalie Arena
The pop-country superstar made her first Tampa Bay appearance in more than a decade.
Creative Loafing Tampa
By Ray Roa, Kamran Malik
June 4, 2018
It should’ve been obvious when a woman started waving a Swiss flag during an opening set by Euro-pop superstar Bastian Baker, but seemingly everyone in the world is a Shania Twain fan. Still, it might’ve been easy for Bay area fans to forget that. The 52-year-old songwriter hasn’t visited this neck of the woods in over a decade. Twain last played Tampa’s Amalie Arena, then-called St. Pete Times Forum, on a 2004 tour celebrating her 2002 LP, Up!, but that album ended up being her last before a 13-year hiatus that found her dealing with dysphonia brought on by Lyme disease.
On Saturday, in front of 13,500 fans, Twain made her return to the stage in support of Now, her first album of new material in 15 years. She didn’t waste a second, either. Entering the arena from the breezeway around Amalie’s lower bowl, Twain made her way through the crowd, hi-fived fans and quickly kicked into a Warhol-colored take on “Life’s About To Get Good” from that new album. For a moment, amidst the neon blues and yellows, it seemed like Twain’s once-sterling vocal would get lost in a mix heavy on bass and the voices of her six backup singers, but that worry quickly resolved itself. Twain was all smiles and already in a new costume by the time “That Don’t Impress Me Much” rolled around just 30 minutes into the set. She even felt carefree enough to re-do the song’s ending, which found her getting dipped by one of her dancers. “I’ve only got this ending right, like, twice, on this whole tour,” she laughed.
After breezing through the tropi-rock of another new one (“Let’s Kiss and Make Up”), Twain gave Amalie its first big arena-rock moment during the old-school shuffle of “Any Man of Mine,” where her velvet red shitkickers led the band through a straight-up square dance. Reaching back to that 1997 hit (and “Honey I’m Home” from the same album, Come On Over) was a reminder that in her heyday, Twain reigned supreme over pop-country. And while pumps and platforms outnumbered cowboy boots in the crowd, Twain seemed eager to please everyone in the crowd. Some of the biggest cheers came during a mid-set, piano-driven performance of Now slow-burner “Soldier,” which found Twain sitting in a guitar case and suspended over the crowd while scenes from the 2017 film Thank You For Your Service played in the background.
In April, Twain, a Canadian, famously gained some friends and foes after saying she would’ve voted for Donald Trump had she been able to vote in the 2016 election. Twain quickly apologized for that statement, and strayed away from politics during this performance, opting instead for hit after hit after hit. She even had to deploy a four-song music video medley to squeeze all of her big records into the 22-song, two-hour long set. At the center of the show, however, were her fans, who’ve been clamoring for a return for some time now.
At one point, in the run-up to a soaring version of another 1997 hit (“From This Moment”), Twain walked a handful of fans up to the stage and introduced them to the crowd. One was a young girl from Argentina who spoke very little English. Another was even younger and was carried on stage, barefoot, by her mom. None were more impressive (and impressed) than the cowboy hat-wearing 20-something who just stood there, starstruck and in awe of the singer.
“I was born and raised right here, but you’re one of my childhood heroes,” he gushed.
The kid was probably four years old when the “Woman In Me” video came out, yet there he was, head over heels standing onstage, all smiles and in full disbelief. Shania, as sunny and ebullient as she was in those '90s videos, looked just as impressed with the fan.
In an era of 15-minute pop stars — where fame is more fleeting than ever and fans tend to be fickle at best — that devotion, despite years between albums, was the most impressive part of the night. Twain had a front row seat to that faithfulness on Friday, and even she seemed surprised to see that, to her fans, she’s she’ll always be the one — forever and always.
Life’s About To Get Good
Come On Over
Don't Be Stupid (You Know I Love You)
That Don’t Impress Me Much
Let’s Kiss and Make Up
Any Man of Mine
Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?
Honey, I’m Home
You’re Still The One
From This Moment On
I'm Gonna Getcha Good
Party For Two (w/Bastian Baker)
Swingin' With My Eyes Closed (w/Bastian Baker)
(If You're Not in It for Love) I'm Outta Here!
Man! I Feel Like a Woman!
Rock This Country!