Shania Twain @ Sheffield Arena (08/03/04)

aThat Did Impress Me Much!

I was looking forward to this one. Shania playing 'in the round'. Our seats were pretty near the stage on the floor and we were going to be pretty close

Arriving fashionably (and deliberately?) late, we managed to miss the majority of the support act, Bjorn Again. I'm sorry but I'm not really into Abba. There is simply no call for a whole tribute act (there is probably more than one such act out there) regurgitating Abba's radio-friendly seventies pop pap. Anyway, the audience seemed suitably enthusiastic as we found our seats.

Shania came on and played for 90 minutes and during which sported 3 different costumes. The last outfit comprised a pair of jeans and an extremely over-sized official Sheffield Steelers Ice Hockey Team top (rolled up aggressively at the sleeves). The previous two outfits were less flamboyant than I expected and thus were very flattering!

Shania, it turns out, whilst touring the globe, donates money to a local charity at each gig. I wasn't aware of this and it warmed my heart somewhat. This time, she had chosen to donate to a Sheffield-based children's charity. Nice touch.

Her large, all-singing, all-dancing, multi-instrumentalist collection of immaculately groomed musicians were highly animated all evening. They hailed from America, Canada and Australia. I know this because Tyler Durden knows this. Actually, no. I know this because half way through the evening, Shania decided to introduce her band except she didn't do it the normal "let's all listen to each person's best solo attempt" way. No, she jumped down out of sight (probably to get changed into a new costume) and passed the microphone to a band member, letting them all take turns in introducing eachother to us (complete with witty mini-anecdotes).

I think I prefer the solos.

Anyway, the band were excellent and seemed to be constantly changing instruments, providing 4-part backing harmonies and encouraging the crowd to clap along, hands over head stylee like they do back in the good old US of A.

Another thing Shania likes to do is run some kind of raffle where members of the audience buy red tickets (I'm guessing this is how the charity donating elements come in although being late-comers we may have missed all those shenanigans). She picks out a winning ticket during the show and one lucky individual gets to come up on stage and have their photo taken with Shania. The winning couple on this occassion when summoned bounded up to meet her and pose for a cheesy pic. One of the ladies grabbed the mic sensing their 5 seconds of fame were over and sycophantically explained to Shania that "this is the best concert I've ever been to". Highly cringeworthy. Oh the things people say when faced with their idol (into a mic, in front of thousands of people).

Another woman 'won' her photo taking session by catching Shania's eye with a large home-made sign which the singer read out. It said something like "Please can I have my photo taken with you!" Simple, but completely effective.

Now, why didn't I think of that?

Shania spent a lot of time multi-tasking (ie, singing whilst signing autographs). Scores of adoring fans were lining the stage waving pens and paper all night and Shania answered their prayers. At first I found this annoying. I was like, c'mon less of the name writing and a bit more performing please. The thing I realised, was, this was her performing and I don't that she does this at every show. Maybe it's me being secretly jealous. Where's mine???

Anyway, she lots of familiar numbers, kicking off with "Man, I feel like a woman". It always feels a bit odd singing along to this particular one. Fortunately I had a really sore throat so vocal participation on my behalf was out of the question.

I personally tend to prefer Shania's ballads but these were few and far between. She opted to perform more of her upbeat numbers and I guess those are the real crowd-pleasers.

The show featured lots of fireworks. Always exciting. She came on for an encore and played two sings I didn't recognise (ie, not on "Come on Over" or "Up") which I found a little strange.

She frequently 'thanked you Sheffield' and smiled from start to finish.

Unfortunately, I didn't take a camera as I feared the venue's security may comfiscate it. AS it happens, there were loads of people with cameras in there (including one old guy in the row in front who seemed to watch the entire concert through his camera's tiny LCD. Now that's what I call appreciation!

At one point and just after finishing a song, Shania turned to a fan who must've been happily snapping away and said "Are you sure you've got enough photos? You're going to run out of film for sure". I don't think this would have been a major worry for the fan.

Another highlight was someone's banner which attracted Shania's attention. She read it out. It said something like "What's more addictive than chocolate but much lower in fat..? Shania!" She was touched.

Like she needed an ego-boost!

There was some good participation from the singer I felt. The highlight for me was her appearing with one of her guitarists (armed with acoustic guitar) in the audience after having disappeared mysteriously during a protracted instrumental. She sat there in amongst the riff-raff and sang a really nice slower number (which I didn't recognise) before leaping back down to rejoin the central stage.

It must be pretty good being Shania Twain. She has a voice which can melt you, she is ridiculously attractive, she is adored the world over and she has a gifted and loyal band of 9 years. She may have a bob or two also...

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