Shania Twain, PPG Paints Arena, July 17, 2018

Reviewed by Michael Rampa

Few country crossover stars are worthy of the hyper production afforded by full time pop artists. Since Shania Twain became a member of the cry wolf club by swearing that she was done touring, only to hop on the bus again in short order, the industry powers that be faced a dilemma: risk the stigma of another “Shania Now” world tour when many were saying it should be branded as a retread called “Shania Again” or to forge ahead and choose to spare no expense this time around in the production department.

Given their subject was the woman who has the bestselling album by a female artist in any genre, they chose the latter.  The current iteration of the  tour is a high tech, amped up throbbing greatest hits dance party complete with 5 12’x12’ cubes that doubled as elevated stages and video screens. Twain’s entrance was a classic bait and switch. As the concert fill came to a close, the massive sound of kettle drums prefaced her entrance. With all eyes fixated forward on the main stage, the spotlight suddenly focused on the B stage where Elijah Wood was relentlessly pounding the mallets. While the audience focused on that, Twain was being escorted down the stairs from a back section of the arena. When the spots lit her up she was clad in a bedazzled cowboy hat and boots rocking one of her one of her signature thigh high dresses en route to the stage.

She opened with the rocking hopeful “Life’s About To Get Good.” from the “Now” album. And indeed, life was about to do just that. The show minimally showcases the new album. Save for the heart wrenching military tribute “Soldier,” the remainder of the 21 songs were earlier hits. With the massive screens, the busy troupe of dancers and vocalists, it may have been considered too much for another artist to handle. But the charismatic and still sexy at 52 Twain shone through the high volume and occasional cacophony whether both dancing backstage and having her  40-foot silhouette projected  or on top of the cubes belting out “Honey I’m Home.” In a segment reminiscent of a Pink show, She took a ride in a chair made from beat up guitar cases suspended over the audience to deliver “Still The One.” She closed with raucous versions of “Man, I Feel Like A Woman” and “Rock This Country.”

. “I want to savor this moment. I’m leaving for Europe soon and I don’t know when I’ll be back touring or in Pittsburgh”. If history is any guide, it will be in 2020.

Swiss singer Sebastian Baker drew a pretty good gig for his first ever U.S.  tour.  Twain heard him play in his native country and invited him to lunch. He warmed up the local crowd citing that he played hockey for 13 years and was thrilled to be playing in the five-time Stanley Cup winners’ building. He played two numbers from his 2011 debut, “Lucky” and “I’d Sing For You.”