There's a danger when a pop culture figure steps away from the spotlight that the audience might move on. Country singer Shania Twain stopped touring for more than a decade, but judging by the way around 13,000 fans ate up her show Thursday night at Wells Fargo Arena, the singer was gone but not forgotten.
"I don't know the last time any of you saw me in concert, but I can guarantee it was a long time ago," Twain told the crowd early in her set.
The Canadian country singer started her show with "Rock This Country," her 2000 hit that gives her farewell tour its name. Twain arose from beneath the stage, slowing ascending on a steel platform as she sang while lasers, fog and projection screens went wild around her. With the second song, "Honey I'm Home," sparks showered from the stage's scaffolding.
"You Win My Love" and "I Ain't No Quitter" followed in short order. Unfortunately, so did some technical issues.
During "Quitter" there was some feedback from Twain's microphone and during "Love Gets Me Every Time" there was an ongoing rumble that seemed more like a bassed-up car driving by than anything a musician would want associated with a live show.
By the next song, "Don't Be Stupid (You Know I Love You)," the sound issues seemed under control. But they would return.
Next Twain left the stage and was pulled around the floor on a cart while singing "Any Man of Mine." After circling the arena she returned to the stage, briefly disappearing backstage and returning with a new outfit while flames shot up around her. She sang "I'm Gonna Getcha Good" and managed to sign an autograph while doing so. Considering she was using a handheld microphone, it was some impressive multi-tasking.
Twain still recorded during her time off the road, meaning there were songs in the show that hadn't been taken out on tour before. One was "Party For Two," a duet with Billy Currington. Opening act Gavin DeGraw joined Twain on stage, singing Currington's part.
Next up Twain climbed onto a saddle, which was lifted on a crane that circled her around the arena as she sang "Up!"
"It's been too long since I've been up here," Twain said, presumably referring to the stage, not the crane. "I don't know what I was waiting for. I'm just really grateful that I'm here now. That's one thing in an entertainer's life; you do your best, go out there and sing and you don't really know if anyone is going to come."
Next Twain broke out an acoustic guitar for a stretch of songs that included "Today is Your Day," "No One Needs to Know" and "You're Still the One." On the last stirring song it was just Twain and her guitar on stage, though her band was still playing behind the curtains.
Twain briefly left the stage again, returning for "From This Moment On." Unfortunately, so did the sound issues. Fireworks on stage helped conceal that a bit, but the issues still lingered during "That Don't Impress Me Much."
After "I'm Outta Here," Twain left the stage while her band continued to rock out. She returned in one final outfit for her big hit "Man, I Feel Like a Woman," with more flames and confetti.
After 11 years, Twain didn't seem rusty at all. She's still at the top of her game and it will be interesting to see where her career goes when she shifts her focus away from performing. It's unfortunate that sound issues marred several of the songs.