Shania Twain - Scotiabank Arena 10-22-2023As the wheels of fate would have it, Shania Twain’s third concert in Toronto this year evolved into an ebullient homecoming—a spirited celebration tinged with personal resonance. Navigating the high seas of her “Queen of Me Tour” last night (Oct. 22), Twain docked her musical ship in a harbor of familiarity, delighting fans not just as a global luminary but as a cherished local star.

While the show was framed as part of her “Queen of Me Tour,” for this night, it could have easily been rebranded “Queen of Ontario.”

 

The stage was a tasteful spectacle of size and radiance—bathed in orchestrated lighting and crowned by a sprawling backdrop screen that spanned from one side of the arena to the other, projecting huge images all night. In the arena, a space designed for grandiosity, her acoustics boasted a crystal-clear tone, fusing intimacy with scale in a manner few can master.

Emerging in the audience on a moving platform, Twain inaugurated the evening with “Wake Up Dreaming,” a compelling opener from her 2023 album “Queen of Me.” With that first note, a kinetic charge ran through the audience like a current. “This was my training ground,” she mused, alluding to her early life, marked by marathon 13-hour train rides from Timmins to Toronto. The stage visuals nodded in agreement—’Ontario’ illuminated behind her for “Don’t Be Stupid,” and ‘Toronto’ was etched on the screen as she gyrated around a motorcycle during “I’m Gonna Getcha Good.”

Every smile, every chuckle from Twain seemed to drip with sincerity, as if she were entertaining family in her own living room rather than a packed arena. Even as she serenaded fans with anthems like “You’re Still the One” and “Any Man of Mine,” she made room for personal interludes. One such moment came when she invited a young opera singer to share a stage they had both stood on 22 years ago.

Over two decades ago, a young Daniela Agostino from Vaughan, Ontario, found herself with an invaluable treasure—fourth-row tickets to a Shania Twain concert at what was then the Air Canada Centre. The tickets were a gift from her father, who has since passed away. For Agostino, who regarded Twain as an idol, the tickets represented more than just a night of entertainment; they were a gateway to a dream. Determined to seize this once-in-a-lifetime moment, Agostino crafted a sign with a straightforward but earnest plea: “Pick me to sing!” Remarkably, her gambit paid off.

Fast forward 22 years to 2023 and the opera rendition of “I’m Gonna Getcha Good” stunned Twain with an aura of genuine excitement, which caused the audience to erupt.

The evening’s setlist served as a satisfying sample of Twain’s illustrious career. The medley featuring lesser-known gems like “Pretty Liar” and “Number One” peppered the musical feast, providing enough variety to keep the palette engaged. Crowd-pleasers like “Honey, I’m Home” and “Rock this Country!” were presented with such gusto, you’d think Twain had just penned them. The two-hour and 15 minute show was well rounded with bits from her entire career, but it relied heavily on her most successful album Come On Over, which has sold more than 40 million copies.

When it came to fashion, Twain was both evocative and understated. A sequined camouflage top and fishnet stockings made her look accessible yet glam, setting the stage for her encore metamorphosis. Emerging in the fabled leopard-print ensemble that’s only been seen once before—the one she’d worn only for the “That Don’t Impress Me Much” music video—the crowd’s cheers reached a crescendo at this point.

Twain’s final bow seemed to serve as an emotional exclamation point to a story told in notes and lyrics. What stood out was not merely the show’s technical finesse, but the unspoken emotional dialogue between Twain and her fans. Here was a woman who could commandeer an arena while exuding the warmth of a fireside chat, making each attendee feel as if they were part of something exquisitely special, deeply personal, and truly unforgettable.

TALK - Scotiabank Arena 10-22-23Adding to the memories was a new support act many hadn’t heard of. No one could have predicted that relatively unknown singer TALK would be a scene-stealer of an evening headlined by a Goddess like Shania Twain. In just six songs, this Ottawa native melded the grandiosity of early Meat Loaf with the glam of Broadway panache, transforming the indifferent into fans, myself included.

Dressed in custom made gold overalls covered in stars, TALK’s set was an emotionally-charged sprint, featuring tracks from his album “Lord of the Flies & Birds & Bees.” Each song revealed a complex artist at the heart of it all. It’s clear why he describes his album as both a smile-inducer and emotional balm, because it only took the audience two songs to embrace the newcomer – that song was the uplifting “A Little Bit Happy”, which is a modern-day sing-along and a viral hit from last year. And it’s also a shoe stealer – during the song he kicked his Crocs into the audience and was hoping to get them back, but it looked like only one of them made it back to the stage, leaving the singer performing in socks.

The capstone of his performance was a riveting cover of “School of Rock,” solidifying him as a talent deserving of the limelight he shared with Twain or at the very least, giving him a Broadway audition like none other.

By set’s end, the only regret was not nabbing an autograph from the singer, because something is telling me this guy is going to be huge. TALK’s brief but electric performance not only set the stage for the glitz and glam of Shania but hinted at the very future of Canadian music itself – inclusive, incomparable and incredible. Keep an eye on this one; he’s going places.

All photos by Dan Savoie

Shania Twain

TALK

Shania Twain Set List:

  • Wake Up Dreaming
  • Up!
  • Don’t Be Stupid (You Know I Love You)
  • I’m Gonna Getcha Good
  • Come On Over
  • You’re Still the One
  • Giddy Up
  • Any Man of Mine
  • Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?
  • Honey, I’m Home
  • Rock this Country!
  • Medley: Nah!/ She’s Not Just a Pretty Face/ Waiter! Bring Me Water!/ When / Thank You Baby! (For Makin’ Someday Come So Soon)
  • Pretty Liar
  • From this Moment On
  • Number One
  • Party for Two
  • Forever and For Always
  • (If You’re Not In It For Love) I’m Outta Here

Encore:

  • That Don’t Impress Me Much
  • Man! I Feel Like A Woman!

Shania Twain / TALK

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