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Tina Turner in concert.

October 24, 2008

That still unmistakable voice...

CONCERT REVIEW |Photo's by Elle Denneman

Glendale - Friday, Oct. 24, 2008

Seeing Tina Turner at age 68 is a lot like seeing Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones as they move through their 60s: It was a solid show with some fun bells and whistles, but concertgoers are no longer seeing the essence of the artist.

Like Jagger, much of Turnerís appeal in the í60s through the í80s was her onstage sexuality.

No one could shimmy like Turner as she danced around the stage in a miniskirt and some of the most famous legs in show business. Her soaring, emotional vocals on songs like Iíve Been Loving You Too Long (with late husband Ike) and Whatís Love Got To Do With It sealed the deal.

Turner is back in the spotlight after eight years of ďretirement,Ē and Fridayís concert at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale was solid entertainment but without the passion and sparks that used to mark her live performances.

For starters, time has marched on and Turner, who turns 69 next month, gained a few pounds in retirement on the French Riviera. She looks great for a senior citizen, but she probably should have skipped the sparkling baby-doll dress she wore for Whatís Love Got To Do With It.

Turner doesnít move like she used to, so she wisely has hired four attractive, young female dancers to be with her onstage most of the time. The star did loosen up for some nice dance numbers late in the show, Simply the Best and Proud Mary.

The biggest problem, however, is that Turner struggles to reach the high notes in her hits these days. That was especially evident in the first segment of her two-hour-plus performance, which included an intermission.

Her turn as the red-clad title character in Acid Queen, a song from the film of the Whoís rock opera, Tommy, was one of the showís more dramatic moments, but the singer repeatedly missed the tuneís high notes.

Private Dancer, one of her biggest hits, featured the star surrounded by her own dancers with artsy slides on a huge video screen, plus a nice saxophone solo. But again, Turner struggled with the range.

Finally, just before intermission, Turnerís voice seemed to improve, allowing her to cover the full range of We Donít Need Another Hero (Thunderdome), from the film Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.

Hero was another highlight of the set, with Turner dressed in the costume and wig she wore in the 1985 movie, stalked by a male dancer also in costume. Turner ended up on a pedestal that rose 20 feet above the stage, drawing a roar from the crowd, which was largely age 40 and older.

Fireworks and explosions brought the showís first half to a close.

A lengthy slide show during intermission of Turner in her heyday, performing with the likes of David Bowie, Phil Collins and Jagger, was enjoyable but a bit bittersweet in that it reminded concertgoers how raw and dynamic the singerís performances used to be.

Itís unclear what Turnerís halftime routine is, but her vocals improved for the second part of the concert after an initial misstep.

Turner apparently wanted to ease into Part 2, so she chose a quiet, piano- and sax-fueled version of the Beatlesí Help!, in which she made no pretense of trying for the high notes.

She sang her vocals over the top and reached for the higher parts of a soulful version of Al Greenís Letís Stay Together.

Turnerís sultry vocals on Undercover Agent For the Blues were perfect, paired with sweet harmonies from two female backup singers. Funky lead work on the acoustic guitar made the song one of the concertís high points.

I Canít Stand the Rain was another, as the song let Turner work her lower range on a funky foundation of piano and bass.

The rockers in the crowd enjoyed Turnerís strong take on two Rolling Stones songs, Jumpiní Jack Flash and Itís Only Rock íNí Roll.

Her performance of the title track from the 1995 James Bond film, GoldenEye, showcased the large stage, which included two stairways, a row of movie studio-style lights, a large video screen and two smaller ones.

Turner emerged on a platform high above the stage, dressed in a black gown, as a male dancer played the part of Bond, complete with white dinner jacket. The scene had a Broadway feel to it.

Turner let it all out as the show wound down with Proud Mary and a rollicking take on 1973ís Nutbush City Limits, from her days with Ike.

Taking a page from the Stonesí flashy arena shows, Turner climbed onto a mechanized arm that rotated to take her over the first 40 rows of fans on the floor.

She got gritty as she leaned over the railing and implored the crowd to sing along.

ďShe does great for a woman her age,Ē one 50-something fan said late in the concert.

That about summed it up.

Something Beautiful Remains
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