South Florida residents had the pleasure of ringing in the start of the month with none other than Shania Twain and Switzerland-based Bastian Baker, and the two did not disappoint. Traffic surrounding the venue was light and the crowd was thin upon doors opening, taking me by surprise. Usually it is a pain to get into the BB&T Center 15 minutes after doors, but not this time. Upon walking in to the venue two minutes before show time, seats were empty and the arena was cold. Bastian Baker walked out on stage with a smile on his face, warming up the early crowd with his acoustic, heartfelt songs and witty banter. “How many of you are from Switzerland?” The crowd cheered, whether they understood what he asked or not, to which Baker responded with, “Wow, that many? There’s only 8 million of us in the world.” He strummed his guitar, to which he was interrupted by a fan yelling at him that he was hot. He took that and rode with it, sending thanks and assuring he’d let his mom know. “This next one is actually a positive song,” he said before performing “Leaving Tomorrow.” The upbeat track got the crowd moving and off their feet, swinging their hands in the air and clapping to the beat. Before performing his third song, “Tattoo on My Brain,” a fan asked him to marry her. “Marry you? When? Today? I’m busy today but I’ll see about tomorrow.” The audience has now thickened, and their chuckles filled the air. The breakup song once again got the crowd going, but not more than the next song- his seamless, perfected cover of “Hallelujah,” which he performed “so everyone can sing along.” Clearly, Bastian was a great opener with an incredible personality and even better talent, making him the perfect fit for a run with Shania Twain.
Shania was set to take the stage at 8:30, but that got pushed to 8:45. It was clear that she was about to take the stage when her drummer played the beat to “We Will Rock You,” which warmed up the now-packed arena. Everyone stood up, clapped and stopped to the beat, and sang along. Finally, the queen herself came out on the high-rise stage structure and said, “Are you ready Fort Lauderdale?” The crowd roared, and then it was time. “Life’s About To Get Good” opened up the show, with colorful backgrounds dressing up the screens. Straight into “Come On Over,” the country star paced the stage, interacted with those in close-by seats. Tropical scenes graced the background screens, setting the mood for the remainder of the set. “Life goes up and down,” Shania said before her third song of the night. “But what’s important is it will always go “Up!”” The crowd went wild, pulled out their phones, and danced along to the 2002 hit. Dancers rushed the stage with big silver balloons, dancing along to their routine with them in hand as Shania slowly rose to the top of the stage. It was an incredible sight to see, and made for a great visual experience. The crowd stayed on their feet for “Don’t Be Stupid (You Know I Love You),” and “That Don’t Impress Me Much,” two of her biggest songs yet. The setlist was a perfect blend of old and new, keeping fans of all ages happy. Shania got lowered under the stage, and her drummer emerged yet again and performed two epic drum solos back to back. There even was a kiss cam, which got an elderly couple and two young couples to smooch in front of the concert attendees. She came back out on stage in a country get-up: a cowboy hat, cowboy boots, and all, to perform “Any Man of Mine.” Shortly after, Shania hopped off stage and greeted fans in the crowd, took selfies, and high-fived those with their hands out. She even had two lucky fans escort her to the B stage, and brought them up with her on the main stage. It was clear that she is extremely grateful for her fans after all these years, and she was sure to interact with them in every way possible. Throughout the night, she performed with Bastian Baker for two songs, and sat on a swing shaped like a guitar swing, which soared around the arena. Her encore consisted of “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” and “Rock This Country!,” two of her biggest hits that got the crowd going for one final time that Friday night. The Now Tour was unlike anything I have ever experienced, and I genuinely enjoyed the show from start to finish.