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Shania Twain at Capital One Arena

During the first third of the show, when Shania Twain was performing her hit “That Don’t Impress Me Much” atop a 10-foot tall cube, she jumped in the arms of one of her male dancers as the last beat hit. Visibly enjoying the moment, she whooped and exclaimed, “don’t get me wrong, I’m a hardcore feminist, but I really love this part of the show. I have to relive it every night!” The dancer grabbed her and threw her back once more to which she whooped again.

Twain, 52, seems to have fully embraced her personal struggles that led to a divorce from her husband and collaborator Mutt Lange, the subsequent loss of her voice and a 10-year hiatus from touring. She made her triumphant return on Sunday to thunderous cheers in a nearly sold-out Capital One Arena on the DC stop of her NOW tour, supporting her first project in 15 years since 2002’s Up!. 

During a two-hour performance, the country pop icon took the crowd on a journey with songs and visuals spanning her illustrious 25-year career. “From This Moment On,” “I’m Gonna Getcha Good” and “Any Man of Mine” were some of the hits she graced the stage with. “Man! I Feel Like A Woman!,” one of her most widely known songs to date was met with roars as the entire arena practically sang the song for her during her encore. The overall production value was top notch, and rivaled pop performances from stars half her age. During one of the most touching moments of the night, Twain performed her ballad “Soldier” while floating over the crowd on a seat styled as a bumper stickered guitar case. While she sang, visuals of the film Thank You For Your Service, in which the song is featured, played on the screens.

Best of all, was the range of fans in attendance. Shania’s ability to bring together people of all ages was on full display Sunday night. After performing her 1998 smash “You’re Still The One,” she invited two fans on stage to share their experience with her. “What brought you here? What’s your story?” she asked a young woman in her twenties. The woman replied that her mother took her to her first concert when she was 5 years old and it happened to be Twain’s show. The other fan, a man also in his 20’s, donned Twain’s iconic leopard print hooded-bare midriff that she wore in her “That Don’t Impress Me Much” video. Twain’s face exploded with joy as she enjoyed witnessing the impact her art has had on entire generations.

While some other artists may shy away from their past struggles, Shania Twain’s return seems to be centered around embracing her hardships as part of her human story. This authenticity is quite inspiring and explains why she can take such a long hiatus, return and still perform for packed-out arenas. She is a shining example of the fact that our triumphs as well as our setbacks paint the full portrait of us and define who we are. She is still the one. Photos/write-up: Gevar Bonham