19 Dec 2018

REVIEW: Shania Twain at Spark Arena

From RNZ Music, 9:00 am on 19 December 2018

Shania Twain's first ever New Zealand show at Auckland's Spark Arena last night was an absolute banger. Our reviewer Susan Strongman had the time of her life.

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena Photo: Daniel Lee

I was 14 when Shania Twain’s ‘Man! I Feel Like A Woman’ came out in 1997. I had a weekend job in a cafe at the mall in New Plymouth. My boss Barbara played the album, Come On Over, on repeat. At the time, I thought it was very uncool. I listened to Radiohead’s OK Computer. Now that, I thought, was cool.

I guess I just wasn’t being honest with myself.

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Twenty-one years on, I don’t know when the last time I listened to Radiohead was, but if you put ‘Man! I Feel Like A Woman’ on, I’m guaranteed to lose my shit entirely, which is what happened when I went to Twain’s first ever New Zealand concert in Auckland last night.

I couldn’t help it. I was overcome with joy. I will have that synth riff stuck in my head for days to come, and I don’t mind at all. Let’s go girls! What a song for our time.

A writhing mass of eclectic white boomers filled Spark Arena to capacity. A woman in the front row wore a sequined top and red glittery cowboy hat - one of the many cowboy hats worn last night. But no amount of two dollar shop tack would overshadow what I counted to be nine (nine!) costume changes by Twain.

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena Photo: Daniel Lee

She sparkled majestically as she entered the venue from the side, not five metres from where I stood, in a silver lamé dress with a hip-high split and matching glittery shoes. She paraded through the crowd while a golden-haired drummer on a rotating plinth whacked out the beat to Queen’s 'We Will Rock You.'

Upon her arrival on stage, Twain opened the show with her 2017 single ‘Life’s About To Get Good’. I’d never heard it before in my life, but it did not matter. I was ecstatic. The boomers were ecstatic. Life really did get good for the approximately two hours during which the 53-year-old Canadian performed.

I don’t think I realised until last night quite how many bangers Twain has written, and also how many of them I know the lyrics to.

She sang them all - ‘Don't Be Stupid (You Know I Love You)’, ‘You're Still the One’, ‘That Don't Impress Me Much’, ‘From This Moment On’ - and they all sounded great, with the helpful addition of two female backing singers (who also danced), two long haired guitarists (one who also played the fiddle), two male dancers, the golden-haired drummer (whose kit got wheeled around the stage quite frequently) and a woman who I believe had green hair and played the piano accordion, fiddle, and synth.

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena Photo: Daniel Lee

During the set, Twain and the band took various positions on top of, nearby, and sometimes even inside of five magical moving telescreen cubes which, during various songs, displayed various images including (obviously) leopard print, a storm and Twain-themed pop art.

During a weird metal musical interlude, Twain snuck onto that rotating plinth from earlier, acoustic guitar in hand, to sing ‘You’re Still The One’, while the crowd and I earnestly waved our cellphones (torches on). This was followed by a very adorable crowd interaction in which Marie from Papamoa, who was at the concert alone on her 50th birthday, got up on the plinth, tried to take a selfie with Twain, accidentally called her husband Mark who had a quick yarn with the pair (“Hi, it’s Shania!”) and then had Happy Birthday sung to her.

Go Marie! Go Shania! Let’s go girls!

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena Photo: Daniel Lee

There are no zero prizes for guessing which song our bedazzled heroine finished on, but SPOILER ALERT, it was ‘Man! I Feel Like A Woman’. In a touching homage to one of the greatest music videos of all time in my humble opinion (which, yes, I know was a homage to another pretty good but arguably quite sexist music video) Twain wore thigh-high boots and a sparkly black dress. Even my mate Vincent got out of his seat.

Was it Twain I could hear singing? I don’t know, the crowd was deafening. If I had been wearing a cowboy hat, this is the point at which I’d have thrown it sky high. What a ride. 

As the crowd dispersed into the night, the sounds of happy punters singing ‘Man! I Feel Like A Woman’ echoed along Beach Rd. Was there any human at the show that did not, in fact, now feel like a woman? I highly doubt it.

Shania Twain is performing again tonight at Auckland's Spark Arena and on Saturday at Dunedin's Forsyth Barr Stadium.

Shania Twain live at Auckland's Spark Arena, Tuesday, December 18:

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena Photo: Daniel Lee

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena Photo: Daniel Lee

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena Photo: Daniel Lee

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena Photo: Daniel Lee

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena Photo: Daniel Lee

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena Photo: Daniel Lee

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena Photo: Daniel Lee

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena Photo: Daniel Lee

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena Photo: Daniel Lee

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena Photo: Daniel Lee

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena Photo: Daniel Lee

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena Photo: Daniel Lee

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena Photo: Daniel Lee

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena Photo: Daniel Lee

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena Photo: Daniel Lee

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena Photo: Daniel Lee

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena Photo: Daniel Lee

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena Photo: Daniel Lee

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena Photo: Daniel Lee

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena Photo: Daniel Lee

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena Photo: Daniel Lee

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena Photo: Daniel Lee

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena Photo: Daniel Lee

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena Photo: Daniel Lee

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena Photo: Daniel Lee

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena Photo: Daniel Lee

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena Photo: Daniel Lee

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena Photo: Daniel Lee

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena Photo: Daniel Lee

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena Photo: Daniel Lee

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena Photo: Daniel Lee

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena Photo: Daniel Lee

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena

Shania Twain live at Spark Arena Photo: Daniel Lee