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December 2, 2008

Tina Gets Lift From Hydraulics

Tina Turner turnin' it on again in Madison Square Garden!


Four decades ago, Tina Turner made a vow she would "nevah evah do nothin'" nice 'n' easy.

Monday night at the Garden, the now 69-year-old star put that promise to the test by keeping things just as nice and rough as health and reason would allow.

True, she didn't whip across the stage with quite the insatiable appetite and blinding movement of the ancient days.

But she did move hard, fast and often enough to deservedly wow the faithful, who packed the Garden despite the fact that Turner has no new music to boast about and hasn't launched a tour since she announced her "retirement" nearly a decade ago.

The spectacle fans witnessed last night wasn't far removed from one they would have enjoyed at the star's solo peak in the'80s. The set list doubled as a greatest hits from that time, opening with the bump and grind of "Steamy Windows," threading through comeback touchstones like "What's Love Got to Do With It," and peaking in '70s rousers like "Nutbush City Limits."

Turner divided the night into two one-hour segments, interrupted by an intermission, positioned, it seemed, more to give the audience a breather than to give herself one.

Turner made the energy seem easy. Even if she didn't always show it in her movements, she more than made up for that with an element too often overlooked: her singing. Though some earlier reviews of the tour reported her in iffy voice, at the Garden she sounded more fiery and sure than ever.

Befitting her indomitable persona, Turner didn't simply sing the notes. She mauled them. Her genius showed in her ability to find nuance even while piling crescendo on crescendo. The peaks never numbed but kept escalating. Turner tore the hell out of "Acid Queen," in an arrangement that goosed it with bits of "Won't Get Fooled Again." In "Jumpin' Jack Flash," she bested the Stones for sheer speed.

And, need I say that, even at this grandmotherly age, Turner looked drop-dead?

Naturally, so did those legs, looming as high and iconic as the Chrysler Building. Toward the show's close, in "Proud Mary," Turner even busted out all the vintage dips and shimmies. If she can pull all that out at 69, maybe she should consider giving this latest "final" tour an encore.


Something Beautiful Remains
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