Two thousand and eight saw the return of one of the most iconic figures in rock history as Tina Turner, after eight years of retirement, dusted off her stilettos and hit the road again to celebrate her fiftieth year in music. Tina’s career had been a series of ups and downs until her breakthrough disc Private Dancer was released in 1984 – and the rest, as they say, is history. While as a recording artist Tina’s work has mainly focused on mainstream pop/rock, her live shows were never anything but rock, earning her the moniker “The Queen Of Rock ‘N’ Roll.”
The 50th Anniversary Tour played ninety shows spread out over six months from October 2008 through to May 2009. It’s my firm belief that at the peak of her powers, Tina Turner was the greatest live performer in the world, and while age may have its restrictions, she can still out-rock the best of them with her presence and voice alone. How many other women have filled stadiums throughout the world for twenty years? None that I can think of, and because rock ‘n’ roll has yet to find a replacement for Turner, I still say she’s the best solo act performing today.
By the time this DVD was filmed (this March in Holland), Tina was sixty-nine, supercharged, and in rare form. Looking like a million bucks and with that paint-stripping voice of hers louder than ever, Turner added another chapter to her illustrious career. The show itself was spectacular, easily her most elaborate production to date. The only notable compromise made for the mature lady was a much smaller stage area so she didn’t have to cover as much ground; this meant she spent the best part of the night upfront rocking the mike.
As the red curtains part and The Queen descends from parts unknown, the massive crowd is ecstatic for good reason. With her trademark wild mane, killer heels, and sprayed-on black sequined number, Tina hits the stage grinding out the swamp-rock of “Steamy Windows,” which is quickly followed with “Typical Male.” Turner’s band is as well-drilled as ever, and her four scantily-clad backup dancers add allure to the proceedings. When Turner does join the girls to bust some moves, she has no trouble in keeping up with them or the pace changes throughout the classic “River Deep, Mountain High.”
“What You Get Is What You See” is beefed up from its pop-rock original by the twin guitar attack of John Miles and Laurie Wisefield; then, they again lead the charge with the heavy-hitting “Better Be Good To Me.” After a sequence featuring ninjas stage-fighting, the band pumps out an intro of The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” as Turner appears from behind the huge screen to rip up “The Acid Queen” (from Tommy). Doing away with a chiffon cover, Tina waltzes through “What’s Love Got To Do With It” and “Private Dancer” in a red minidress that shows off those famous legs (captured beautifully by the cover shot).
The most spectacular moment comes when a mini-Thunderdome appears on stage for “We Don’t Need Another Hero,” for which Tina dons the full Aunty Entity costume. It’s a powerful image, and Turner gives a mighty performance. The curtains draw to close out the first act amid plenty of pyro and Aunty again high above the stage, still defiant after the apocalypse.
The second act opens with an acoustic, seated set. The Beatles’ “Help” is given the most soulful rendition it’s ever had, while Tina’s version of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” still induces goosebumps and the sexy “Undercover Agent For The Blues” prove what a great blues singer Tina once was. “I Can’t Stand The Rain” is given a given a soul makeover before everyone is up on their feet for a furious Stones medley of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and “It’s Only Rock & Roll (But I Like It).”
Tina’s 007 theme “Goldeneye” is given a very Bond-like performance with Turner appearing from inside a golden eye before descending a staircase to the stage for a frantic blast through Robert Palmer’s “Addicted To Love.” That song has long been a mainstay in Turner’s set, and I’m glad she’s clipped down the overlong versions of the past back to its original state. “The Best” is tailor-made for the stadium, and it doesn’t disappoint; Turner and the band crank it up all the way and deliver this number with gusto and conviction.
Tina introduces her posse and delivers her now trademark version of CCR’s “Proud Mary,” complete with dance breaks and an extended outro to allow for the final costume change for the encore. And what an encore it is: Tina’s own “Nutbush City Limits” finds her strutting up and down a suspended catwalk high above the crowd with no safety precautions in sight (and in those heels as well). Team Turner struggled to get insurance for the show because of this, and it’s no wonder – the woman does nothing by half measures.
Tina closes out her show with the soul ballad “Be Tender With Me Baby,” which has never sounded better; it’s a truly emotional ending to an exhausting show. Every song is driven to its absolute pinnacle, and Turner pushes herself to still deliver a show worthy of her legendary status. Tina is a legend; she is the greatest and this is massive achievement for this sixty-nine year young force of nature.
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