One of the earliest songs that I remember singing as a young girl was Shania Twain’s “Any Man of Mine.” Of course, at the time, I made up a lot of my own words, but sure had a lot of fun doing it. I wanted nothing more than to be a singer when I was younger, and she was one of my main influencers. To me (and like many others), Shania Twain was one of the first artists that drew me in to country music. I remember watching her concert specials on Thanksgiving and thinking she was one of the coolest people out there. She always had her own sort of style and unique way of doing things, and was popular in both country and pop genres. She paved the way for so many females in the country music industry, and I feel that Taylor Swift is probably our “modern day” version of her.
But, I digress. Her songs were those of my childhood and as I’ve gotten older, they’ve become even more like anthems, such as “That Don’t Impress Me Much,” “Any Man of Mine” or even “Man! I Feel Like A Woman.” My dad and I loved listening to “From This Moment On,” the duet between her and fellow country singer, Bryan White. To this day, I’d still say it’s one of our favorites. Years later, after her hiatus and time away from the music business, she released a book, “From This Moment On.” Between reading about her life in the spotlight and watching her show on the OWN Network, it was easy to see that her life was no ‘walk in the park.’ Aside from her ex-husband cheating on her with her best friend, struggling with confidence to get on stage or wondering if she was good enough was also something she dealt with, all while growing up in abusive household and losing her parents at a young age. She then had to take care of her siblings as if she were a parent and find ways to make sure that they were protected and had food. It amazes me that she has had the strength to get back up and face the world time after time, despite her circumstances. I’m glad to see that she has found some sort of peace and happiness in the midst of all that has happened to her.
When she returned to the stage in Vegas just a few years ago, I was thrilled and was even more excited when I was able to attend a show. It was a phenomenal production with elaborate costume changes, detailed graphics, dancers and set designs. All of the songs that I’d grown up singing were coming to life and I was singing my heart out with every word. When she announced just awhile back that she was going out on the road, I was excited once again, but wasn’t quite sure if I’d be able to make it to a show.
Well, last night, my mom and I attended the concert with some family friends of ours. After stopping for (a much longer than anticipated) dinner at Cheesecake Factory, we made our way over to the Save Mart Center in Fresno, Calif. to see Gavin DeGraw and Shania Twain. The last time I was there, I saw Taylor Swift and met her in the T-Party Room after the show, so I am convinced that magical things happen in that arena. I was filled with anticipation as the lights dimmed and DeGraw walked onstage to sit at his place behind the piano. I’ve always been a huge fan of his, and fulfilled a goal of mine earlier this April when I not only got to interview him (via email), but see him live when he visited our Fox Theater in Bakersfield. He has incredible energy and charisma and really seemed to get the audience going. He didn’t disappoint then, and he sure didn’t disappoint this time around.
“I know a lot of you don’t know who I am, and that’s okay, because I don’t know none of you neither,” DeGraw joked during his set, which caused the crowd to erupt with laughter. If the singing thing doesn’t take off, he sure is quite the comedian.
He sang most of his radio hits, including “Chariot,” “In Love with a Girl,” and the fan-favorite and his song most-known of all, “I Don’t Want To Be,” which he went into after a Billy Joel cover, wandering through the crowd on the floor; shaking hands and greeting as many attendees as he could. His vocals practically soared, echoing throughout the arena as his soulful rock jams kicked up.
I have so much respect for musicians. Maybe it was because of my desire to be a singer years ago, but my heart goes out to them. Night after night, they pour their heart and soul to people, whether the audience is receptive or not. They give a little piece of themselves away in every city for so many months straight, knowing that they might not get anything in return or the fact that no one has any idea who they are. Gavin DeGraw opened my eyes to that, because he played with the same passion, if not more than when I saw him last, headlining for a crowd who knew exactly who he was. That’s someone who does it for the love of music, and those are the people I admire the most.
After a short intermission, Shania emerged into the air from a lift in the stage, opening with the tour’s title track, “Rock This Country,” and that’s exactly what the almost-50-year-old did. She sang hit after hit, taking my 90s loving self back in time with songs like “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?,” “Any Man of Mine,” “I’m Gonna Getcha Good,” “Honey, I’m Home” and “Up.” Later on in the show, the singer also brought Gavin DeGraw back out to sing her duet, originally with Billy Currington, “Party for Two,” where Gavin also publicly thanked Shania for everything, as this was the last stop on their first leg of the tour.
Shania really went all out with the pyrotechnics, graphics, costume changes, and finding ways to get closer to the fans, whether being lifted from the stage, flying above the crowd or even surfing around with a GoPro camera, taking shots of her with the crowd. I was also just happy to see that the shots of her on the screen in tele novella fashion didn’t last an uncomfortable amount like they did during her Las Vegas show. She’s a beautiful woman, but how long can one person move from side to side in a chair with glasses? While most of the show is high energy with anthem-like tunes, and a bit more of a rock flare to each this time around, she also strips it down with just her and her guitar for a more intimate moment with “You’re Still The One” and the most recent song she wrote, “Today is Your Day,” which was featured on her OWN Network show. It’s easy to see that Shania is a pretty positive and upbeat person, which easily rubs off on the audience, enthused with her charm and performance.
Her vocals might not be quite as they were when she first started many years ago, but she’s definitely still got it, and has the same ability to deliver a song while entertaining and getting the crowd on their feet. She puts on a show and takes everyone in the crowd on a journey with plenty of surprises along the way.
It’s the perfect show for a girl’s night out or just an evening to let loose and reminisce about the good ‘ole days when female power was a force to be reckoned with in country music. No matter where you sit, you are in for an out-of-this-world experience. Shania Twain has proved that she is an icon and a true rockstar in every sense of the word. You’ll walk out with a smile on your face and a song in your head. I, for one, love walking out of a concert feeling inspired and pumped, especially on a Sunday night as we prepare for the rest of the week! And this one was exactly that. I will forever be a Shania Twain fan.
That’s all for now,