There are concerts and then there are concerts.
And then there’s Shania.
What Shania Twain gave her 23,000 fans in Charlottetown Saturday night was for many of them the concert of a lifetime.
She was exciting, she was engaging, she was funny and she was incredibly entertaining.
And she was right there in front of you.
“I can’t believe she’s here, I can’t believe I’m here with Shania Twain, this is an amazing night,” said Jim Evaniuk, of Oshawa. “We traveled all the way from Ontario for this show. I bought her first record, her last record and every record in between, and there she is, singing for me. Well not just for me, but it feels that away.”
The country music superstar pulled out all the stops for her Charlottetown audience, some of whom began lining up to get into the Charlottetown Event Grounds several hours before the gates opened in hopes of snaring a spot close to the stage.
If you went to Saturday's show in hopes of hearing Twain’s greatest hits you did not leave disappointed.
While she didn’t play every hit in her catalogue she played a lot of them, starting right out of the gate with I’m Gonna Getcha Good.
There were stellar versions of Any Man Of Mine, Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under, UP!, No One Needs To Know, I’m Outta Here, That Don’t Impress Me Much and The Woman In Me, just to name just a few.
But the one that really nailed it for many in her audience was Man! I Feel Like A Woman, which she saved for almost the end of the show.
I suspect everybody who came through the gate had that one song they just had to hear to make the night complete.
For Denise Levesque of Bathurst it was From This Moment.
‘I so wanted to hear that song because it was played at our wedding,” Levesque said. “When Shania sang it I cried. It was beautiful, I think even my husband got teary.”
Personally I could have gone home happy after hearing Still The One.
Twain’s show was the total package, with 11 musicians, three back-up singers and six dancers, plus the high-end video package from her Las Vegas show and an elaborate lighting design.
It was as close to Twain’s Las Vegas show as you could get without actually being there, save of course for the fact there was no roof, no walls, no indoor plumbing and I don’t think Caesar’s Palace sells poutine.
One man in the audience who’d seen Twain’s show in Las Vegas said the only thing missing was live horses.
But it truly was a spectacular event.
And despite the fact you were sharing the experience with more than 20,000 other people it had a very personal feel at times, particularly when Twain spoke of her childhood in Timmons and of the role her parents and her stepfather played in exposing her to the classic country songs of artists like Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson.
She also spoke of the role they subsequently played in pushing her to share her musical talents, although both of them died in a tragic automobile accident before Twain’s career off.
Twain paid tribute to her mother in song, performing an a capella version of The Hollies’ Carrie-Anne, which had been a favourite of her mother’s around the time her sister was born. That sister, Carrie Ann, joined her on that number.
Twain waxed poetic from the stage about how much she enjoyed being back in Canada and how much she loved being in Charlottetown to help celebrate 2014.
“Charlottetown is beautiful,” Twain said. “It’s so tidy and the people are so friendly.”
She spoke of the magnificent view of Charlottetown she had from her suite at the Holman Grand.
Twain took many in her audience by surprise when she revealed this wasn’t her first show in Charlottetown, that she’d actually played a show in a city bar with a rock band when she was still in her teens.
Saturday night’s audience was well primed by the time Twain took to the stage thanks to solid opening sets by Summerside native Trinity Bradshaw, a rising country star, and Canadian pop/rock star Corey Hart.
Bradshaw opened the show with a great ripping version of Stompin’ Tom's Bud The Spud before settling into a set of originals that included a number of new songs.
She really hit the mark with her current single Never Drinkin’ Again.
Bradshaw was dynamic, she was into it and her enthusiasm for what the day held was infectious.
Corey Hart also took a run at Bud The Spud during his set before trotting out hits like It Ain’t Enough and Boy In The Box.
He closed with two of his biggest chart toppers, Sunglasses At Night, which elicited huge cheers from the crowd and Never Surrender..
Not averse to covering other artists Hart played a great cover of Rod Stewart’s Maggie May, the first record he ever bought, and Jim Croce’s You Don’t Mess Around With Jim.
Hart was very much on his game, sounding as good Saturday night as he did in his prime in the early 80s.
The concert wrapped at 10:30 but that was not the end of the day for Twain, who returned to the Holman Grand for a meet and greet with people who have supported her charity, Shania Kids Can.
Shania Kids Can is a program designed to help underprivileged kids at primary school level who are having personal problems at home.