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Concert Reviews:
Tina Turner Still Likes It "Nice And Rough"

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Friday, November 21, 2008

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AUBURN HILLS -- Tina Turner sings that "What You Get is What You See."

And what 14,000 fans saw Thursday night at the Palace was a stellar performance that defied all laws of age and probably some of physics.

The 68-year-old singer, dubbed "The Queen" by Beyonce -- and much to the chagrin of Aretha Franklin -- at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards in February, is trotting around the world for the first time since a supposed retirement eight years ago. And while it would be a stretch to say that it seems like no time has passed, it was clear on Thursday that despite the time off, Turner didn't have much rust to shake off.

She didn't move as much as she used to, and her voice has grown noticeably thinner, but Turner still displayed the moxie and attitude that's made her one of pop music's top performers, straddling the worlds of gutbucket R&B and sleek rock with a compelling raspy singing style, appealing taste in material and a contagious exuberance for playing in front of the big crowd.

And, yes, those famous legs still look like they've been cryonically preserved over the years.

There were plenty of other choice moments during Turner's concert, a two-hour and 15-minute affair -- plus information -- with so much conceptual production pieces and visual treats it felt like a prototype for a Las Vegas residency show, from hydraulic lifts positioned around the stage to periodic pyrotechnics. Mad Max's "Thunderdome" was recreated on stage for Turner's performance of "We Don't Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)," while a James Bond motif set up here theme from "GoldenEye." The singer's costume changes were covered by slick choreographed segments, and during "Nutbush City Limits" she traveled above her fans' heads in a cherry picker that extended from the stage, leading them in an exuberant call-and-response version of the chorus and even dancing on a part of the device unprotected by a security railing.

Turner also delivered plenty of hit material -- "River Deep, Mountain High," "Better Be Good To Me," "What's Love Got to Do With It?," "Private Dancer," "The Best" -- but the concert's best moments were those that displayed her mettle as an interpreter of others' works. Following a career-spanning video montage, she began the second half of the show seated for a slow, emotive treatment of the Beatles' "Help," followed by Tony Joe White's "Undercover Agent For the Blues," Turner's sultry hit rendition of Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" and an uptempo take on Ann Peebles' "I Can't Stand the Rain." Turner then rocked out on a Rolling Stones medley of "Jumping Jack Flash" and "It's Only Rock 'n' Roll" -- the latter partly sung by backup singer Lisa Fischer, who also tours with the Stones -- while video clips of both Turner and the Stones insinuated the influence she had on Mick Jagger's performing sensibility.

Turner also paid unspoken tribute to her late friend Robert Palmer with an energetic cover of his "Addicted to Love." And you'd be hard-pressed to find more communal happiness at a concert than when Turner and company rolled into the famous "nice and rough" version of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Proud Mary" that she's been singing for four decades and was just as effective in getting the whole boomer-heavy crowd at the Palace on its feet and dancing like the Ikettes of the late '60s.

As she began the closing "Be Tender With Me Baby," Turner told her Palace fans that "I will leave here remembering you were an absolutely fantastic audience." She can rest assured they were using the same adjective to describe her.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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