Shania Twain delivered a thrilling, career-spanning concert when her Rock This Country tour stopped Wednesday at Wells Fargo Center.
It was a bittersweet night for her fans, though, because they knew they'd never see the "Queen of Country Pop" wrap her fingers around a microphone, throw her hair back, look up to the heavens, and belt out the big hits - or any songs - on stage again. This was the last time. Ever.
If we believe the announcement Twain made on Good Morning America earlier this year - and it's reasonable to be skeptical, since many artists retire, and then come back for one last cash-grabbing hurrah - this is the 49-year-old Canadian's final tour. She's retiring. Well, not really. She won't perform, but she says she'll continue making music; she even plans to release a new album in the next year.
Whether Twain hits the road again, she has had an awesome ride filled with ups and downs. Like Dolly Parton before her, she paved the way for artists like Keith Urban and Taylor Swift to cross over from country to mega-pop stardom. Without Shania, there'd probably be no Taylor.
In 2012, Twain began a two-year residency at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. (Still the One: Live from Vegas, a collection from her Caesars stint, was released in March.) When she took the stage at Wells Fargo Center, it was as if she'd never missed a beat - and learned some flashy new tricks in Vegas. There were outrageous pyrotechnics, wardrobe changes (from a black leather jacket to an elegant black, sequined ball gown), and remarkable stage production that created numerous dazzling visual environments. She even rode a mechanical bull (during "Up!" of course) that soared at least 15 feet above the crowd.
And she played the colossal hits for which the world will always remember her. She performed "Any Man of Mine" on the floor while giving high-fives to ecstatic fans. There was an intimate acoustic version of "Still the One," which cooled things down after the hard-hitting first half of the set (and the hot pyrotechnics). During "That Don't Impress Me Much," she prowled the stage like an immortal lioness. For the encore - beginning with her excellent live band's shredding a heavy-metal instrumental that made Metallica sound like Coldplay - she brought the crowd to its feet with a mind-blowing performance of "Man, I Feel Like a Woman."
Twain's voice isn't what it used to be. She struggled to hit the right notes, missing many throughout the night. But she owned the stage and the songs in a way no one else could. It's tough to believe she's done performing, because she's just so darn good at it, and she does it with such singular grace. And she obviously has tons of life-affirming fun under those lights - how will she stay away? Let's hope this isn't her last rodeo.