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Concert Review

Toyota Center, Miami - November 2, 2008

By Michael Hamersly - mhamersly@MiamiHerald.com

Even the most ardent Tina Turner fans have to wonder whether the 68-year-old Queen of Rock 'n' Roll still has the voice -- and the legs -- to carry a full show after an eight-year hiatus from the road.

Wonder no more. The famously energetic singer, who was inspired to launch her latest comeback after holding her own in February alongside then-26-year-old Beyoncé at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards show, stopped at the AmericanAirlines Arena in downtown Miami Thursday as part of her Tina: Live In Concert Tour (it also hits the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise Sunday night).

Turner immediately put to rest any age- or stamina-related concerns when the curtain opened to reveal her standing on a narrow pedestal 20 feet off the ground. After it slowly descended, the R&B icon belted out the bluesy Steamy Windows, looking and sounding 20 years younger while dancing nimbly, if not as frenetically as she would decades ago, in glittery 5-inch heels. Watching Turner, you'd think 68 is the new 50. Or 40.

The tour is in support of Turner's new 18-track CD Tina!, which hit streets Sept. 30 (note to Tina: After this, we definitely don't need another greatest-hits compilation). Backed by four slinky dancers who brought to mind her more flexible days, Turner gave the near-capacity crowd a ''recap of the work that I've done in the past,'' and it was mostly triumphant.

Over the concert's first half, the '60s anthem River Deep, Mountain High sounded much fresher without producer Phil Spector's Wall of Reverb burying it under sonic muck. Other highlights included Better Be Good To Me (Turner's I Will Survive in ballad form), The Acid Queen from The Who's rock opera Tommy (mashed up with the pulsing synths from Won't Get Fooled Again) and We Don't Need Another Hero (featuring Turner in her campy costume from the film Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome).

If Turner had slight trouble hitting the high notes on two of her most popular songs, What's Love Got to Do With It and Private Dancer, the crowd was forgiving. They were even more forgiving -- meaning they didn't boo loudly, as maybe they should have -- during the subsequent 30-minute intermission, complete with video-screen commercials for makeup products and nutrition supplements. Sure, Tina's 68, but come on.

The second act kicked off with Turner seated in the round with fellow singers and musicians, and was dominated by cover songs. Most were successful: Turner's stripped-down, piano ballad version of The Beatles' Help!, her passionate take on Al Green's Let's Stay Together and her quick Rolling Stones medley of Jumping Jack Flash and It's Only Rock and Roll (her trademark heel-kick-twitch dancing here would have sent most senior citizens to the ER) drew standing ovations. But her Addicted to Love by Robert Palmer was mechanical and pointless.

Turner's power ballad The Best had the crowd bowing to their Queen, and then she bowed back before launching into Proud Mary, which started off as a smoky, midtempo blues epic but kicked into a frantic jubilee. Turner saved the best for last: During Nutbush City Limits (an ode to her hometown in Tennessee), she ran out on a 50-foot catwalk wing that swung out over the crowd. Let's see Grandma pull that off.

 
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