Shania Twain entered Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena Saturday night walking through the crowd like a prizefighter headed to the ring. The capacity crowd erupted at the sight of the pop-country royal as a drummer in the middle of the floor pounded out the rhythm to Queen’s jock jam “We Will Rock With You.” That incessant beat bled into the bouncy opening of Twain’s own personal victory song, “Life’s About to Get Good,” as she took the stage and stood triumphantly to perform the track off her 2017 comeback album Now.
It was a victorious moment that wasn’t possible on either her 2015 Rock This Country Tour or during her residency in Las Vegas earlier this decade, which marked Twain’s return to the public eye after battling vocal issues and going through a high-profile divorce from husband and musical partner Mutt Lange. While the concerts proved Twain still had the stage presence and voice to present her greatest hits, the question remained if she’d be able to add any new music to her record-breaking pop-country canon without Lange behind the mixing board.
The release of Now, Twain’s first studio album in 15 years, put those concerns to rest with a mixture of the high-energy fare her fans have come to expect, along with the lyrical depth that comes from going through major life changes. At the Nashville stop of her Now Tour, it’s clear Twain was enjoying herself after overcoming those hurdles. But apart from making a few comments about how shit happens to everyone while introducing the new track “Poor Me,” Twain didn’t dwell on old ghosts. Rather, she celebrated the past via a string of hits that defined the Nineties and early 2000s.
For the 2002 anthem “Up!”, Twain showed off her state-of-the-art set design, performing atop one of several massive video cubes as it rose high above the stage. During “I’m Gonna Getcha Good,” the cubes pulsed with blue-green light as Twain’s nimble team of dancers donned Tron-like light-up outfits for a fun update on the look of the song’s sci-fi-inspired video.
The now iconic leopard print Twain rocked in the video for “That Don’t Impress Me Much” provided a visual theme for much of the show, and just the sight of Twain putting on her black top hat and long coat from the “Man! I Feel Like a Woman” video drew mad cheers halfway through the evening. It was just a tease, though, as Twain left the stage in the outfit after introducing a video montage of hits that didn’t make the set list, including “You Win My Love” and “The Woman in Me.”
Those omissions were necessary for Twain to make room for new songs, like the moving “Soldier,” which she performed seated on a guitar case that flew over the crowd. “You’re Still the One” received the same overhead treatment, while a reading of her ultimate power ballad “From This Moment On” provided the night’s big sing-along moment, rivaled only by “Any Man of Mine” and “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?”
Later on, Twain welcomed back her charismatic Swiss opening act, Bastian Baker, to take on the Billy Currington/Mark McGrath role for the cheeky duet “Party for Two.” Baker picked up a guitar to back Twain on another standout from Now, the defiant “Swinging with My Eyes Closed.”
As her set approached the two-hour mark, Twain closed the night with the one-two punch of “Man! I Feel Like a Woman” and “Rock This Country,” both off Twain’s biggest-selling album, Come on Over. The 1997 LP also stands at the best-selling album in country music history with 20 million copies moved in the U.S. alone.
Prior to her concert, Twain took time to meet with young women coming up in today’s country music industry. Cassadee Pope, Jillian Jacqueline and Kalie Shorr were among the artists on hand at a pre-show party where Twain shared some words of encouragement.
“I want to congratulate you first of all just for getting to this place where you are mingling with the industry and finding your way in Nashville, which is a challenge. It is difficult for any artist,” she said.
Recalling her own story, Twain noted that she didn’t find success as a country artist until she released her sophomore album, The Woman in Me.
“By the time I made it in Nashville, I was not ‘new,’” Twain said. “I started in bars from the age of 8 years old, so I know that none of you who are here just came out of the blue. You’re all talented. I’m just really looking forward to being a part of the community that has for so long nurtured great talent.”
Twain will continue her role nurturing new artists as a mentor on the new music competition series Real Country, debuting this fall on USA.