Since emerging with her self-titled debut album in 1993, Shania Twain has sold over 100 million records worldwide with her album Come On Over being the biggest selling studio album by a female artist of all time. Her latest critically acclaimed album Queen of Me has hit the number-one spot in the UK, Canada, the United States, Switzerland and Australia.
Rising from the ashes
Twain’s journey over the last few years has been one of formidable rebirth. Following her diagnosis with Lyme disease, Twain’s symptoms manifested in dysphonia where the singer was not able to adequately project the sound and quality of her voice. Whilst out riding on horseback, just prior to her 2003 tour, she was bitten by a blacklegged tick and subsequently contracted the virulent, degenerative condition. Speaking to Vanity Fair, she admitted:
“My voice was never the same again. I thought I’d lost my voice forever. I thought that was it, [and] I would never, ever sing again.”
And further that:
“My symptoms were quite scary because before I was diagnosed, I was on stage very dizzy. I was losing my balance, I was afraid I was gonna fall off the stage … I was having these very, very, very millisecond blackouts, but regularly, every minute or every 30 seconds.”
Now, in an astonishing return to form after corrective surgery to her damaged vocal cords and a gentle yet sustained recovery, she has risen from the ashes to alight upon the stage in all her vibrant countrified-rock-pop glory.
Joyous, vibrant spectacle
Twain certainly knows how to make a grand entrance: she emerged spontaneously out of a covered box part way through the crowd, like a magician’s assistant, wearing a pair of silver-rimmed spectacles and a pink wig looking every inch the star of the show.
Opening with new track Waking Up Dreaming, the next two hours were a masterclass in entertainment – one minute she was riding on the back of an imitation Harley motorbike to perform I’m Gonna Getcha Good!, the next we were all invited to the ‘Twain Town Saloon’ for Any Man of Mine – complete with a fiddle player.
In an immersive, captivating show she invited an eight-year-old fan up on stage with her, “What is your favourite song?” asked Twain to which the starstruck youngster offered “Man! I Feel Like A Woman” – the band broke into the song with its familiar fanfare-like riff and the young fan joined Twain in a duet. Whilst it all might have seemed spontaneous, the moment did appear to be a little contrived, but that could never have detracted from the extraordinary entertainment value.
Support act Breland joined Twain on stage for Inhale/Exhale AIR which brought a different pace to the evening before the disco mirror balls were brought out for an energetic version of Number One.
Special mention must go to her two backing singers/dancers who worked tirelessly throughout the show – their enthusiasm was infectious. Saving her most well-known hit to the end That Don’t Impress Me Much brought the cowboy-boot wearing audience up on their feet to conclude a concert that, pardon the pun, did impress me very much.
Shania Twain appears tonight at PRYZM, Kingston upon Thames, for her last show in the UK on this particular tour.
Information and resources about Lyme disease: