Shania Twain throws party for thousands at packed Vivint Arena
Shania Twain took her prerogative to have a little fun to new heights Saturday night at Vivint Smart Home Arena.
The pop superstar not only performed high above the stage on a five-pack of shape-shifting video cubes, but at one point during her just-shy-of-two-hours show, she sat perched on a swing made to look like an open guitar case that soared over the audience before depositing her on a satellite stage at the far side of the arena.
In addition to that, she delivered a high-energy, top-end production that had fans both mesmerized and exuberantly singing along from beginning to end.
All in all, you might say that she did impress us much.
Twain’s “Now Tour” stage production kept the audience guessing throughout -- never quite knowing where she might appear or disappear as part of the performance.
Take the beginning of the show as a prime example. When the lights went out after a loud pre-tape of Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” drummer Elijah Wood appeared on the satellite stage banging out a loud beat on two drums. With the audience’s attention diverted, Twain actually made her initial appearance halfway up an aisle in a side section of the audience.
Twain, wearing a slinky dress and a cowboy hat, sauntered down the aisle as nearby fans freaked out. Instead of making a turn directly to the stage when she hit the main floor, she took a detour toward the far end of the arena and crossed to the other side -- high-fiving ecstatic fans along the way before she finally finished her trek to the stage.
“Salt Lake City, are you ready?” she proclaimed. “I said, ‘Are you ready, Salt Lake City?’ ”
With that, the music started and the curtain behind her raised as she walked to stage left and welcomed out her cadre of backup dancers/singers for the show-opening “Life’s About to Get Good.”
Other than Twain herself, the centerpiece element of the stage production was the aforementioned pack of video cubes. Sometimes they would join together in one big group, but more often than not, they would separate into different conglomerations that would move all over the stage and also rise to dizzying heights. Twain, her backing band members, and the dancers/singers all made great use of the cube platforms throughout the evening -- and the cubes themselves projected video, and other stylistic effects that added to the concert’s overall sizzle factor.
After “Come on Over,” Twain ascended a stairway to the highest cube (at the time) to perform “Up.” The crowd was going fairly bonkers by this time, a fact not lost on Twain as she introduced the song.
“I think you’re the loudest crowd we’ve had the whole tour -- I’m serious,” Twain said. “And we’ve only just begun (the show)!”
Now, perhaps Twain uses the same line every night, but it seemed genuine and she did reiterate the sentiment later in the evening, so who knows. But Twain definitely did have the crowd on the edge of delirium most of the night.
Not surprisingly, Twain’s set pulled heavily from two of her five studio albums -- her new one, “Now,” and 1997′s gigantic-seller “Come on Over.” She performed seven songs from each of those records, which worked out to just over two-thirds of her 20-song set.
There was a notable difference in tone between the material from those two albums, however. Twain, who went 15 years between albums while battling both health and personal issues, was working through some pretty emotional themes on “Now.”
“I enjoy venting through my music and getting (things) off my chest,” Twain said while introducing “Poor Me,” one of her new songs. “It’s very therapeutic.”
She wisely followed that up with two upbeat and energetic hits, “Don’t Be Stupid (You Know I Love You)” and “That Don’t Impress Me Much.” On the latter song, Twain was surrounded by her four male backup dancers, who cavorted around her provocatively both singly and as a group. At one point, Twain stepped over some kind of air fan, which blew the main body of her flowing dress clear over her head, prompting her to laugh and miss a line of the song before catching herself.
Afterward, Twain laughed at the incident -- and even dropped a popular Utah figure of speech on the crowd.
“Am I imagining it, or did my dress just fly over my head? This is the first time that’s happened this tour. Oh my heck!” she said. “We’re here to have fun, so anything goes, I guess. I’m going to spend the rest of the show trying to forget it.”
Twain made several stunning exits and entrances throughout the concert. There was a red circle centered in the middle of the stage, and a couple times she descended out of view right through it. She would generally reappear somewhere else within a minute or two, complete with a new outfit change.
Her backup band consisted of four musicians, with a couple of them playing multiple instruments as needed. The band was in constant motion throughout the evening. There were large stretches, in fact, when the band was completely out of view behind the video cubes. Wood’s drum kit moved all over the stage, and all the band members spent various time atop the ever-evolving video cubes.
Twain sang the poignant “Soldier” while riding the open guitar case swing over the crowd. She dropped to the small stage and was handed an acoustic guitar. The swing then elevated her over the stage as she sang “You’re Still the One” as the audience lit up the arena with cell phone illumination.
After that, Twain was again lowered to the small stage, where she took several selfies with fans in the audience before connecting with a half-dozen or so school teachers from Scera Park Elementary in Orem. The group had been pre-chosen and moved to the nearby seats prior to the show -- and Twain had them follow her back across the floor to the main stage with a hearty, “Let’s go, girls!” The group shared a couple minutes onstage being quizzed by Twain before returning to their seats.
Other show highlights included a great version of “I’m Gonna Getcha Good,” an enthusiastic duet on “Party For Two” with opener Bastian Baker and the main set-closing ”(If You’re Not In It For Love) I’m Outta Here.”
Twain and Co. returned for a show-stopping version of “Man, I Feel Like a Woman” that culminated in a giant confetti blast as Twain suddenly disappeared through her below-stage conduit. She’s been closing most shows this tour with “Rock This Country,” but for some reason on this night, she didn’t return to play that song. No matter. Twain proved she could still dazzle the masses, both with her songs and her over-the-top stage production.
Swiss singer-guitarist Baker opened the show with an entertaining 30-minute six-song, solo acoustic set. Baker certainly didn’t lack for confidence, taking command of the crowd right away with his witty banter and bubbly nature. In fact, he might have been a tad too enthusiastic as he must have name-checked “Salt Lake City” at least 20 times. (Pro tip: A couple times will do, thank you!)
Still, it was hard not to appreciate Baker’s energy and confidence standing up with just an acoustic guitar in front of a filled-to-the-rafters Vivint Arena where everyone was jonesing for Twain. He was especially good on a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” and his own “Love on Fire,” “All Around Us” and “Leaving Tomorrow.”