Shania Twain might not be the reigning queen of country in 2023, but she proved Saturday night in front of a packed house at Climate Pledge Arena that she is deserving of another moniker: living legend.
The last time Twain visited Seattle, in 2015, Barack Obama was president and the arena still went by KeyArena. It’s been a productive eight years for Twain, who has since released two albums including this year’s “Queen of Me” and just finished up a Las Vegas residency that began in 2019.
After getting the tour started in Spokane on Friday, Twain seemed full of energy and gratitude as she took two hours to blast through some of her biggest hits and plenty of new songs — something that was missing from her set eight years ago, when her last album was 2002’s “Up!” The new material helped ensure the show wasn’t just about the past but was firmly rooted in the present, which might have explained why there were a surprising amount of younger fans in the crowd.
Fellow Canadian Lindsay Ell got things started with an impressive, tight set that included “I Don’t Love You” and “Criminal.” Throughout, Ell, who hosts “Canada’s Got Talent,” showed off some impressive guitar chops as she noted she was especially excited to be visiting the birthplace of Jimi Hendrix.
Taking the stage promptly at 8:20, Twain got things started with a new song, “Wake Up Dreaming,” and there was an immediate fear that perhaps her voice had changed significantly due to a noticeable amount of autotuning. It would have been understandable, given that Twain was forced to retire for several years following a Lyme disease diagnosis that apparently caused damage to her vocal cords, but thankfully it was an effect specific to the song.
By the time she launched into her 2002 hit “I’m Gonna Getcha Good” a few minutes later, all was right and she had the seemingly sold-out crowd in the palm of her hand. A few songs later, the nostalgia hit even harder with a pitch-perfect version of “You’re Still the One” and the good vibes carried over to her latest single, “Giddy Up!”, which showed that Twain still knows how to write an infectious pop-country hit.
She hit her stride with “Honey, I’m Home,” another song from her seminal 1997 album “Come On Over,” which has sold more than 40 million copies and holds the record for most sales by a solo female artist, according to Guinness World Records.
Though she could have easily stuffed the entire show with nothing but old hits and singles, Twain didn’t shy away from including numerous songs from her new album and it was refreshing to see her so energized by her new music. “Last Day of Summer,” “Inhale/Exhale Air” and “Number One” might have sounded a bit more like modern country-pop but fit right in with older favorites like “Rock This Country!” and “Party for Two.”
In an era when many artists choose to overwhelm their audiences with a constant barrage of visual stimuli, it was refreshing to see Twain perform a relatively stripped-down show. Unlike in 2015, she didn’t spend time flying about, suspended by a crane and she only executed one very meaningful costume change when she came out for the encore.
After closing out her main set with “Queen of Me,” Twain traded in her cutoff shorts for a flowing tuxedo gown and her iconic top hat and gave the delirious crowd a final chance to keep the party going with ‘90s favorites “That Don’t Impress Me Much” and “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!”