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Concert Review

Air Canada Centre - November 13, 2008

LAST NIGHT - TheStar.com | entertainment | At 68, Tina is still simply the bestNov 14, 2008

Unlike her last concert here eight years ago, Tina Turner didn't have an agenda last night: no new songs to plug, no threat that this was her last tour of big stadiums.

The two-hour show before a sold-out crowd of more than 16,000 at the Air Canada Centre was simply a celebration of her 50-year, eight Grammy-winning, 180 million album-selling self; or, as the most successful female rock artist of all time humbly promised the audience – "a recap of my work done in the past."

Backed by a potent seven-piece band, she opened the show some 20 feet in the air on a pedestal that slowly descended to the stage and launched that gravely voice in full throttle with "Steamy Window."

She was very loud – even in her "Hi everybody!" hello –and there were times when it seemed like you could've heard her from the rafters without the mic. That meant slight distortions depending on your seat. She laid back for a three-song acoustic set after the intermission, singing from a stool, then bounded up before the last note had quelled and delivered a spirited version of "Jumpin' Jack Flash" as if being still had been penance.

Turner changed outfits several times, favouring sequined capri sets and micro minidresses. At 68, the Nutbush, Tenn., farmer's daughter is a well-proportioned size 10-12 with legs that seem to start just under her bosom. With just a shimmy here, and a shuffle there, she left most of the choreography to the nubile young dancers, but never seemed lacking in energy in the eye-popping show, which featured pyrotechnics and elaborate technical staging.

She embodies triumph over expectations, aging, the music business, her rural origins, and especially over that famously abusive ex-husband, Ike Turner, who died of a cocaine overdose at 76 last year.

But Turner holds no mean grudge. Ike figured prominently in the memory lane footage that opened the second half. Even though she stoked the Mars-Venus division for a "What's Love Got To Do With It" singalong – "Fellas, are you going to let us girls beat you at your own game?" – she had the genders united by the end of the song.

Turner is a nonpareil blend of strength and grace. I heard 27-year-old Beyoncé, with whom Turner kicked off this year's comeback in a Grammy Awards duet in February, say that she's over being known as a hot girl and desires to become an icon.

Tina Turner is proof that you can be both.

Something Beautiful Remains
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