Tina Turner brings raw passion and grace to Vancouver

kevin statham photo


By Steve Newton

You always know pretty well what to expect at a Tina Turner concert. First off, there’s the legendary lady herself, whom you can rely on to perform with raw passion and grace. It’s in her blood, which apparently hasn’t thinned that much in 62 years.

Then there are her dancers, that quartet of scantily clad gals whose bump ’n’ grind approach to funky soul-rock keeps the energy level—and most guys’ eyes—up on-stage.

And lastly there’s the repertoire, the collection of classic Tina tracks that includes “The Acid Queen” from The Who’s Tommy, plus her show-closing renditions of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Proud Mary” and the ’73 Ike & Tina hit, “Nutbush City Limits”.

If you don’t get all the above at a Tina show these days, it might be time to ask for your 90 bucks back.

The 14,000 or so fans who packed GM Place last Saturday (May 13) didn’t need to ask for refunds, and they got a few surprises thrown in as well. The staging was pretty wild, resembling a shipwrecked party yacht of sorts, with three levels for the vast array of musicians and dancers to strut their stuff on.

At one point during the theme from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome Turner paid tribute to the over-the-top spirit of that flick by riding a horseshoe-shaped platform down from the top of the stage. Another time the vessel-like structure split apart amidst showering sparks as Turner emerged to the strains of David Bowie’s “Putting Out Fire (With Gasoline)”, which quickly morphed into Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”.

After a rather confounding and ill-advised segment in which Turner turned things over to her backup singers and gyrating minions, she returned to centre stage—along with a grand piano and one of her three keyboardists—for a torch-ballad version of the Beatles’ “Help”.

But what could have been a stark and stirring showcase for her anguished vocals became a grandiose exercise when various other band members—including an overwrought saxophonist—put their two bits’ worth in. Shortly thereafter, a much lesser composition, Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love”, proved a great vehicle for Turner’s sassy singing style.

Most of Turner’s material was old hits recorded by herself and others, but one new tune that drew cheers was “Missing You”, which my concertgoing older sister—the same one I had to take to see Elton John a few months back—explained was featured on a recent episode of Ally McBeal.

My sis also informed me that Turner performed the tune on a recent airing of The Oprah Winfrey Show, and that Turner and Winfrey are close friends. I didn’t know that. Maybe the overachieving Opster can go on one of those crash diets she’s famous for and transform herself into gyrating-minion material in time for Tina’s next tour—if there ever is one.

Considering the rigours of the road, even legs like Turner’s must get tired sometimes.

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