Shania Twain created so much momentum with 1997's Come On Over -- 30 million copies sold and counting -- that the album is still carrying her all these years later. On Wednesday night, she definitely needed the boost.
The Canadian country-pop singer performed a sometimes bumpy show at American Airlines Center for a near-capacity crowd of moms, daughters and the occasional guy -- all of whom seemed pleased to have her back. Three years ago, Twain announced her "retirement" tour, but then changed her mind, like so many fickle stars before her.
A month into a new tour to promote Now -- her first studio album in 15 years -- Twain struggled with technical glitches at the start of the show. She couldn't get her in-ear microphone headset to work properly, and twice, a roadie had to come onstage and dig through her flowing mane of hair to fix the wiring.
The bigger issue was the show's pacing, or lack thereof. A series of costume changes drastically slowed things down, as did Twain's leisurely strolls through the crowd. But the main problem was the singer's stilted banter between songs.
When she wasn't spewing clichés -- "The sun will come out tomorrow!" "There's a light at the end of the tunnel!" -- she seemed stiff and nervous while talking about her new songs. One segment where she invited fans onstage was just plain awkward, especially when one fan climbed atop a grand piano to sit next to her, and Twain asked her to climb back down.
Vocally, Twain sounded better than expected. Not exactly a powerhouse singer to begin with, she's struggled in recent years with dysphonia, a voice disorder that has recast her voice in a lower register. But with help from her backup singers and some minor electronic effects on her mike, Twain came through loud and clear on old hits and new songs about overcoming life's obstacles, like "I'm Alright" and the show-opening "Life's About to Get Good."
Look inside Shania Twain's Dallas concert
Several new tunes found her experimenting with different flavors, including the reggae-tinged "Swingin' With My Eyes Closed," which she sang with opening act Bastian Baker. But she devoted the bulk of the two hour-show to sure-fire singalongs from Come On Over, from slight numbers like "That Don't Impress Me Much" to the 24-karat pop of "You're Still the One."
Despite her slick-pop leanings, Twain can still sell a country song with conviction. The fiddle-laced "Any Man of Mine" and "Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under" sounded like the best songs Loretta Lynn never recorded.
Twain's unretirement tour hasn't generated nearly as much excitement and discussion as, say, the Dixie Chicks' comeback tour in 2016. But despite the problems, Wednesday night's show was still a two-hour blast of mindless diversion, packed with dazzling visuals, flashy dance numbers and amusing touches like Twain swaying high above the crowd on a swing shaped like a guitar case. As she succinctly put it in a new song, "More fun is all we need."