Shania Twain and Gavin DeGraw at Nassau Coliseum, July 1, 2015 – Concert Review
July 6, 2015
ZEALnyc Pop Music Editor
After being off the road for over a decade, Shania has embarked on her latest North American tour dubbed the Rock This Country Tour which is being billed as her last. Opening for Shania is local NYC rock, pop and soul vocal powerhouse Gavin DeGraw who has been opening for Billy Joel during his Madison Square Garden residency.
Gavin took the stage promptly at 7:30PM and played a solid 45 minute set comprised mostly of hits spanning his career and a few cool covers. He stormed through his hits including the soulful Chariot, the sugary Sweeter, and his odes to a love Best I Ever Had and In Love With a Girl. His first hit I Don’t Want to Be showcased his strong vocals and masterful piano strokes.
Gavin was warmed up and pumped for the crowd and performed with his typical high energy and enthusiasm. He possesses a cool confidence that comes across as smooth and suave as his music.
A highlight of the show was when DeGraw paid tribute to rock legend Billy Joel sharing with the audience that on this night, Joel was performing his 65th show at the world famous arena setting the record for most shows ever performed there previously held by Elton John. He then paid homage to Joel by playing a spot-on cover of Joel’s 1978 hit Big Shot that would’ve made Billy proud.
Gavin ended the show with a cool medley of the beat driven and melodic Not Over You and the Bryan Adams hit Heaven. DeGraw plays with ease and maturity bringing a strong stage presence to his performance and once again he shined bright.
As good as Gavin was, there was no question this was Shania Twain’s night by the roaring reception she received from the adoring crowd.
Shania’s set started at 8:45PM with a slow buildup of heavy bass and drum beats and numerous images of Shania flashing back and forth on enormous screens. As smoke began to fill the stage, she was slowly lifted from under the stage by a motorized forklift which continued rising to the skies finally stopping just shy of the upper deck giving her a bird’s eye view of the audience. It was quite an entrance as she was taking it all in and she finally opened with the energetic Rock This Country. Smoke bombs exploded along with fireworks shooting upward from the stage giving it an early July 4th feel. This was a thunderous start to a packed 19 song set which spanned her long illustrious career.
Shania’s sexy look has withstood the test of time as she rocked her many wardrobe changes featuring her signature knee-high black stilettos and sequined red dress, a black trench coat with shorts, and fishnets and knee-high red boots. During the fan favorite You Win My Love, she swayed across the stage and tossed aside her sunglasses looking gorgeous, seemingly finding the fountain of youth.
Her country roots were in full force during Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under, Love Gets Me Every Time and Any Man of Mine in which she was wheeled around the entire arena on a mini stage by the crew to give the fans a truly up close and personal view of their idol.
The band was exceptionally tight and consisted of seven other band members on guitars, strings, keyboard and drums. Shania shocked her drummer Elijah Wood by inviting him to join her at the front of the stage as she introduced him to the crowd, sharing that he is only 19 years old, is new to the tour and is a local Long Island native from nearby Port Washington. The fans cheered wildly. Elijah was exceptionally sharp and on point like a seasoned pro proudly playing his heart out with a youthful energy and fierce, forceful drum banging, rocking out during every song with full on head banging. It was quite an impressive display proving that Elijah could easily compete with some of the most experienced and best drummers in rock and roll.
Thanks to her ex-husband and producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange (who produced three of Shania’s four studio albums), her songs had a hard rock and pop feel and sound (similar to Def Leppard beats) and less country twang. These rockin’ numbers included I’m Gonna Getcha Good! and (If You’re Not in It For Love) I’m Outta Here!. During the former I felt the heat of the flames thrusting from the stage.
The Canadian songstress seemed utterly thrilled and humbled to be touring again in New York, sharing how at home she feels in the U.S. and telling the crowd “This is my party and I’m so glad you came. I’m having the time of my life.” So were the fans.
It was all about the fans with a stage setup that extended close to the center of the arena which Shania turned into her own personal catwalk. She frequently engaged the crowd throughout the evening showing her love for the fans by stopping for selfies and even signing an autograph for a fan midway through her set.
Shania debuted I Ain’t No Quitter which was her first time performing it live with a video backdrop of young male topless models doing a country hoe down flashing on the large screens behind the stage appealing to the largely female demographic of the audience.
Another stand out moment included a duet with opener Gavin DeGraw (she announced he has been one of her favorite artists for many years). They shared the stage for her 2004 hit Party For Two. The chemistry between the two artists was seamless and effortless as they exchanged vocals and danced with each other throughout the song.
At one point she sat on a western saddle mounted on a motorized crane, straddling it while being lifted high above the crowd throughout the arena, singing her appropriately titled hit Up.
About two-thirds into the set, the full band toned it down with a mini acoustic set featuring the courageous Today Is Your Day (about the difficult period in her life when she lost her voice and thought she would never sing again, and the courage that it took to make it through such a trying time), No One Needs To Know and then left Shania by herself to sing the gorgeous You’re Still The One.
My personal highlight was the beautiful From This Moment On which brought chills and goosebumps.
The encore began with an enormous flickering light display with enough blazing lights to illuminate NYC during a blackout, and the band played a heavy rock instrumental to get the fans pumped for Shania’s return to the stage. Finally she appeared and obliged the crowd singing the closing song Man! I Feel Like a Woman! trading verses with the crowd.
Shania has paved the way for other crossover artists (such as Taylor Swift) who have successfully transitioned from country to pop. On this night, she owned the stage with her strong vocals, relentless energy and high production numbers, once again proving she’s ‘Still the One”.