Tina Turner at the Frank Erwin Center (Photo By John Anderson)
Frank Erwin Center, October 27
Online searches for Tina Turner tend to yield critics and fans using the same cliché over and over; "What's age gotta do with it?" Sometimes clichés fit, though, and it's impossible not to marvel at how little 61 birthdays have affected Tina Turner. At the Erwin Center, the "career journey" Turner's presenting as her final full-fledged tour expertly jogged between "nice and easy" and "nice and rough." From start to finish, Turner could hardly have been any more engaging or outright energetic. In fact, not since Prince's appearance at the same venue nearly three years ago have high heels seemed so much like Nike Cross Trainers. But fancy footwork and ageless sex appeal weren't even half the story on this night; instead, this was a tale of how deftly, definitively, and elegantly Turner presented her legacy as an interpretive voice and onstage entertainer. For exactly two hours, she worked the stage, worked the crowd, and worked over four decades of songs. She may not have written them, but she sang 'em like she owned 'em, from the tunes she made hits ("A Fool In Love," "We Don't Need Another Hero") to the outright covers (the Beatles' "Help," Otis Redding's "Try a Little Tenderness"). Better yet, the schmaltz of 1984's Private Dancer
(the title track, "What's Love Got to Do With It," and "Better Be Good to Me") has aged as well as Turner's hamstrings, anchoring a set list so tight and hit-heavy that not even a wall-of-flat take on "River Deep Mountain High" and Robert Palmer's "Addicted to Love" could derail it. Similarly, while her voice evinced an occasional thinness, Turner's ability to turn it on full throttle was a marvel to behold. Having repeatedly stated that she's retiring from the live arena because she "can't keep up with Janet Jackson," Turner's show-closing "Proud Mary"/"Nutbush City Limits" combo could hardly have been more exhilarating. Ultimately, the "Twenty Four Seven" show, featuring a versatile but unflashy band (including longtime drummer Jack Bruno), five backing singer/dancers, and tastefully limited use of both flashpots and props, was the rare arena show that disproved the notion that big shows have to push aside substance for spectacle and intimacy for grandiosity. More than that, it was definitive proof that if Turner's really committed to quitting, 61 or not, she'll have left the stage all too soon.