Shania Twain’s BST Hyde Park show is proof that she’s very much worthy of legend status

Shania Twain performs at BST Hyde Park

Shania Twain has a cold, and she’s fighting with her audio pack. She arrived on stage at her 2024 BST Hyde Park show just moments ago and I’m grimacing, with fingers-crossed, hoping that she isn’t signifying a set quickly going south.

At the end of June, she performed the legends slot at Glastonbury, with some attendees reporting sound issues and a slightly disinterested crowd. I’m worried.

It’s an impressively swift turnaround though, and by track four on the setlist, 2002’s “Up!”, Twain is just that: on the up.

As she belts her way through three decades worth of music, picking up her guitar one minute and organising a muddy field full of denim-clad revellers for audience participation the next, it’s clear that she’s not just a country music legend, or a pop-rock legend at that. Twain is a bona fide entertainment legend, full stop.

There aren’t a whole load of gimmicks to a Shania Twain show. She arrives on stage in a red patterned Vivienne Westwood jacket and skirt combo and glittering boots-cum-sneakers, and stays that way. The set design is fun, all Vegas slot machines, neon saloon bar signage and hot pink leopard print. She’s got her audience down: cowgirls, cowgays, and country afficondos.

Shania Twain performs at BST Hyde Park
Despite some early hesitations, Shania Twain impressed – very much. (Getty)

And that’s the thing about this gig; unlike at Glastonbury, Twain is the only headliner. There, some festival goers may have just popped into the crowd to hear the hits, whereas at Hyde Park, these people are bought a ticket specifically for her extensive back catalogue. This ain’t their first time at a Shania Twain rodeo.

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Her career-defining hits are the undeniable highlight, with her wedding mainstay single “You’re Still The One”, performed by Twain on guitar, being a genuinely affecting moment (though most of the singing is carried out by the crowd, owing to her illness). “That Don’t Impress Me Much”, which arrives towards the end, impresses very much indeed.

Closing on “Man! I Feel Like A Woman!” is the obvious but correct choice. Hearing 65,000 voices all scream “Let’s go girls…” is a genuine moment of euphoria that only someone with a once-in-a-generation hit can create.

Yet as this is a crowd here only for Twain, even her lesser-known, country chart-dwelling hits go off with magnitude.

“Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?”, the 1995 takedown of a cheating partner, is a steeled toe-tapping high point, as is her 2023, feel-good TikTok fodder single “Giddy Up!”.

Right from opener “Don’t Be Stupid (You Know I Love You)” through to that joyous closer, Hyde Park is transformed into a sea of continuously bobbing and bopping cowboy hats.

The cowboy hats are a recurring theme, too. At one point, she gets the crowd to decide which hate she should wear mid set (they opt for the one with diamanté gems, naturally). At another, she gives the audience a lesson on cowboy etiquette, explaining that it’s seen as acceptable for women to keep their hats on indoors, but not for men. 

Shania Twain performs at BST Hyde Park
Shania Twain performs at BST Hyde Park. (Getty)

It’s one of Twain’s most notable strengths: she’s effusive when it comes to chatting with the crowd. She’s an oddball at times, pausing at one moment towards the end of the set to practically hug the stage’s fake tree, but it only adds to her charm.

A lot of her on-stage chatter revolves around her age. She’s 58 now, hardly time to hang up the leopard print, but she’s seen her music soundtrack lives. She talks about Harry Styles being a fan due to his mother playing her songs when he was a child, and becomes borderline emotional discussing how her music has crossed generations.

“This song is old,” she laughs, introducing her 1997 single “From This Moment On”. “But I’m old, for God’s sake!”

Yet with age comes a knack for knowing what a crowd wants, and giving it to them in spades. It has also allowed her to be privy to witnessing the music industry change irrevocably. There’s a moment in her set where she takes a second to pause, and reflect on country pop music storming back into fashion and up the charts via Beyoncé, Lana Del Rey, of course, Taylor Swift. It’s not lost on her the part she has played in paving the way.

As the woman in the fluffy, purple cowboy hat in front of me put it: “What an icon.” And an icon she is.

2024 BST Hyde Park continues until 14 July.

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