Arrived at about 4:30. We weren't allowed to enter the venue till 5:00 so we took our place in the huge line of cars already there. After entering, we hung out in the parking lot till 7:00 (show time 8:00). There were a couple tailgate parties going on and we played Shania on the car cassette loud enough for the people hanging around to enjoy. And they did. Some nearby kids were dancing and singing along. We were in the handicap-VIP lot (my wife has sticker for heart condition) and saw lots of people arriving in wheelchairs, etc. A young lady, mostly paralyzed in a wheelchair, got out of a van next to us. I mentioned to my wife that we needed some welcoming music as she was getting out. Pushed the button on the cassette deck and "That Don't Impress Me Much" blared. She flashed the biggest grin you ever saw. It was clear that in her difficult life, Shania Twain was a joy.
We entered at 7:00. Nisson is an open venue with a covered pavilion and large lawn area behind it. My wife asked one of the workers what the capacity was. She was told that usually 22,000 but that they had expanded capacity to 25,000 for this event. The crowd was a sight to see. An old man, by himself, moving slowly along with a walker, silver-haired ladies with Shania shirts, young couples holding hands, large families, kids galore, you name it. Quite a few young ladies in full Shania-impersonator attire.
A MINOR hitch. As we wandered around the outdoor concession, we came upon a small stage set up near the front entrance (we were parked at the back entrance). The setup-was being taken down and the signs said "Shane Minor." Obviously he had come and gone. We asked one of the workers and were told that Shane had started at 6:30 and played a half hour. We had heard quite a bit of cheering coming from somewhere while we were still on the parking lot, so I'm guessing he was well received by those who did see him. Sorry Shane, we'll try to catch you in two weeks.
We took our seats at 8:00. We were in section 103, decent but not front row by any means (best I could get by ordering as soon as they went on sale - took 45 minutes to get through). After about 20 minutes and nothing, I left to smoke (I know, I need a non-smoking role model). Just to the other side of the rail. Well, Leahy hit the stage as soon as I was done. They are fantastic. I don't even know what to call their music (Celtic rock?) but it was great. They play all kinds of instruments, sing, dance and put on a great show. It occurred to me how great it was of Shania to have them as her opener - showing loyalty to her Canadian roots and exposing the world to a unique style of music most of us had never heard. Already very popular in Canada, Leahy is picking up new fans around the world and I'm one of them. Leahy played till a little after 9:00, the crowd loved them and sent them off with a standing ovation.
It was time to hit the restrooms and grab that smoke (fortunately I was NOT a role model in this regard - none of my offspring smoke). Huge lines to the restroom. The men's line diminished first and some of the bolder ladies used the men's! The guys just gave up the closed stalls and some good humor was exchanged.
9:30 we were back in our seats. And then ...
"ARE YOU READY, VIRGINIA?"
We were ready. "Man! I Feel Like A Woman!" started and the spotlights fell on the large sheet-draped objects on stage. The drapes were lifted to reveal band, instruments and Shania Twain. The crowd was on their feet cheering and stayed that way all night, sitting quietly only for "You're Still The One" and "God Bless The Child," later on. Wearing a long ponytail, slick black pants and a full black top (no bare midriff), Shania looked great. Shania has warmed up to the crowd since the Dallas tape was made. By midway through the first number, she was out on the "T" stage extension, kneeling with microphone in one hand and a marker in the other, signing autographs and slapping outstretched hands. This went on all night.
Shania was in great voice. Her set list was the same as has been reported in recent concerts and she did all numbers VERY well. One she seemed to particularly enjoy was "You Win My Love." She has said she loves doing this number live (it's the only one in her show which Mutt wrote alone). They flashed scenes from the video on the screen during the song. It was a very nice effect. Leahy was back out, as usual for "Don't Be Stupid," but Shania missed the part where she step-dances with them. She was too carried away signing autographs and high-fiving lucky fans!
Before doing "That Don't Impress Me Much," Shania brought a couple guys on stage for some banter. She asked if they were married and one said "yes" and the other guy enthusiastically announced he was single. Shania said something like,"You were pretty enthusiastic about that. Do you think you stand a chance with me or something. I'M married!." The guy said he didn't know Shania was married, thought a minute and then said, "Well, DO I stand a chance with you?" Shania answered, "NO!" Turns out these guys were golf pros and after they left the stage, Shania did the number (new version), but changed the rocket scientist line to an emphatic, "So, YOU'RE A GOLF PRO, that don't impress me much!"
Another humorous incident was when Shania invited a family up on stage. She posed for a group Polaroid with them (she did this a number of times throughout the show). Then the lady said she wanted a picture with Roddy Chung (sp?), the fiddler. Allison (the female fiddler) snapped the picture as the idle Shania stood by. Then the lady secured the only autograph she wanted on it - Roddy's. Roddy must have really been tickled to know that out of the 25,000 people in attendance, at least one thought HE was the star of the show. Her keyboard player (his name escapes me at this moment) also had a fan-club in the audience and Shania acknowledged them.
I was having too much fun to remember which songs were in which set but there were two sets. For her second outfit, Shania wore black stretch pants and a red velvet top. Bare midriff this time,but the world's most famous belly-button was not to be seen (yes, I know it's silly to mention this but someone, somewhere wants to know). The second set started with "From This Moment On" and Shania wore a red, silky robe for this number and a bit after.
Woodrow Wilson High School provided the choir to back up "God Bless The Child" and the drummers for "I'm Outta Here." It must be a very small school (Bristow itself is tiny, not to be confused with Bristol) because there were only six choir members and three drummers. Shania's disappearing act (into the big drum) was even more dramatic this time because the instant she ducked into the drum it burst into flame and was quickly consumed! Shania reappeared being carried through the crowd, Cleopatra style, and passing out the high-fives. A reprise of "Any Man Of Mine" and "Rock This Country" finished the show.
Some recent concert attendees have offered the opinion that Shania seems somewhat less into her music and more into her fans lately. I have to say there's some truth there. Shania has mastered the art of dividing her concentration between the song she's singing and the autographs and high fives she's giving out. Her total concentration is reserved for her more serious numbers such as "From This Moment On," "God Bless The Child" and "You're Still The One." Don't get me wrong - Shania does a fantastic job on her "fun" numbers like "Come On Over" but gives a lot of attention to interaction with the audience. Just as so many of Shania's fans have developed a true affection for her, I do believe she has increasingly developed an affection for her audience. When she kneels down to sign autographs and slap hands she tries to miss no one and seems to have to tear herself away to get back to business.
She shows no sign, whatsoever, of ego. She does not bask in the cheers. She says "thank you" and goes on to the next thing. She treats her band members as equals. She acts like the hostess of the party and not the star of the show. In person, Shania fulfilled my highest expectation of her. She is just flat-out as nice a person as anyone who ever stood on a stage. She's relaxed, open, honest and simply irresistible.
I hate to even have to mention this but I think I should. There have been some "reports" (mainly on the newsgroup alt.fan.shania-twain) that Shania might be using prerecorded tracks for one or more numbers. I can tell you, without a doubt, that this was NOT TRUE last night. Every number was live and contained the gasps, variations, ad-libs, laughs and reactions to her environment that proved it.
Summing up: My wife and I had a blast! An absolutely wonderful time that we'll never forget. The music was great and Shania was a warm and gracious hostess. I'd call it a once-in-a-lifetime experience except that on June 11 we're going to make it a twice-in-a-lifetime experience. After having been to one, I actually look forward to the next one EVEN MORE! I guess that says it all.
Viva Shania !!!!
Shania in Video
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