It may have been over a decade since the reigning Queen of Canadian Country music has hit the road for a full tour but it definitely didn’t show.  Coming off of a 2 year run at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas Shania kicked off her first tour earlier this month in Seattle, WA.

Supporting Shania in Ottawa were Canadian newcomer, Wes Mack (Wesley MacInnes), country heart throbs Dan + Shay and classic rockers The Doobie Brothers.  The show took place at the city’s newest festival venue, Wesley Clover Parks in Bells Corners just west of the former Nortel complex.

My initial estimates were that 19-20, 000 people crammed into the venue which was made up of two giant grandstands and a massive general admission area.  Upon arrival at the venue I must say I was impressed with how well setup it was and also the size of it, Wesley Clover Parks sits on 90 acres of prime parkland much of which can be converted into a festival venue…now I’m not expert on statistics and numbers but I’d be willing to bet that there’s no other venue in Ottawa that can match that.  Add in the existing camping facilities and you’ve got the perfect venue.  Were there some logistical issues over the course of the day? Of course there were but that is to be expected at a new venue for it’s debut event.  The only real way to test a lot of the plans is in an event setting.  I don’t think it’s fair to criticize Wesley Clover Parks and it’s partners too much, from my perspective everything went off as well as could be expected.

As for the music Wes Mack kicked things off with a very high energy show that had no issues getting the crowd primed up for what lay ahead.  If you came to that event not knowing Wes you’d be surprised that he just recently released his debut, self titled EP.  Although his set was only 30 minutes he packed enough into that 30 minutes to win over the hearts of everyone in attendance last night.  We’ve been big fans of Wes Mack for sometime now, you can check out Corey’s interview with Wes here!  This is a guy to watch, it won’t be long before he’ll be headlining a tour and you’re not going to want to miss it.

It was no secret that Dan + Shay were humbled to be on the bill last night.  If their tweet earlier in the day didn’t give it away the numerous mentions during their show were sure to let the crowd know what an honour it was to share the stage with Shania Twain.

The duo kept up the pace started by Wes, but were quick to interrupt the performance when an issue in the crowd near the front of the stage caught their attention.  “Our fan’s well being is most important, we want everyone is safe and having a good time” they said.  It’s not clear what the issue was but after a very short break the duo resumed their set.

After Dan and Shay it was time for a blast from the past as a band that made it’s debut when Shania Twain was still in Kindergarten.  The Doobie Brothers were an odd choice to have for opening act, some might argue that their recent release of Southbound their biggest hits performed with the help of country stars including Blake Shelton, Zac Brown Band, Sara Evans and more.  It took these musical veterans almost half their set to really build up to the level of energy that Wes and Dan + Shay had in their respective sets but as soon as they played the first few notes of “Black Water” the crowd was with them for every note.  Honestly I myself listened to music by groups like the Doobie Brothers growing up but even with that they seemed to be an odd choice for this group of artists.  But by the time Shania Twain took the stage all of that was forgotten.

Fittingly Shania kicked off her show with “Honey I’m Home”, throughout the night she frequently called Ottawa home and spoke of her years growing up in Timmins, Ontario (I grew up in New Liskeard, Ontario just a few hours south of Timmins and first saw Shania live at Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, Ontario).  It was truly refreshing to see a superstar like Shania stay true to her northern Ontario roots.

Shania’s 90 minute performance was likely one of the most honest, from the heart performances I have ever witnessed from an artist.  It was very clear that she loved her fans and even graciously turned down a marriage proposal from a guy in the audience, telling him that there were plenty of other choices for him in the audience that night and that he might even still get to propose if he was lucky…oh and she also applauded his friend for having a strong neck to be able to hold him up so that he could get her attention.

With a career that has spanned nearly 3 decades and superstardom that spans over 2 decades she has a lot of material to fit into a 90 minute performance but somehow she managed to crank out every major hit, chat with the audience and even take the time to perform a duet with fellow Canuck Wes Mack, which I thought was awesome!

At one point she told the crowd that she wasn’t sure if she would ever be able to sing again, but sing again she did and Ottawa was treated to one of the best, classiest performers in the music business.  It was an honour to have been able to attend and be part of her farewell tour.

Special thanks to AEG Canada and Wesley Clover Parks for the hospitality and huge props to Sean Sisk for his incredible images!  If you didn’t get enough of Shania, Wes Mack, Dan + Shay and the Doobie Brothers last night check out my Rock This Country Playlist