LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Returning to the stage after eight years of retirement, Tina Turner delivered a mix of gritty soul and Vegas spectacle during a two-hour show at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Monday.
Coming up on her 69th birthday, the Queen of Rock can’t move like days of old, but her voice and her spirit were willing, as were those legendary legs.
The first half kicked into high gear a few songs in with the rising rumbling of the Phil Spector classic “River Deep — Mountain High,” its Wall of Sound intact, followed by the British Invasion-styled “What You Get Is What You See” and a crunchy, commanding “Better Be Good to Me.”
Sneaking off for the first of several outfit changes, some silly stage business by her male acrobats as fake security guards and stage crashers gave way to a synth-and-power-chord tease of the Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” as she re-emerged in a diaphanous red dress for “The Acid Queen.”
Surprisingly, hits from her mid-‘80s comeback period came off as the least essential numbers of the night, such as a shaky “What’s Love Got to Do With It.” A cage match, Cirque du Soleil-goes-apocalyptic “We Don’t Need Another Hero,” with clips from “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome,” was absurd, but she pulled it off.
After an intermission of ads from tour sponsor Amway, Part 2 brought the night’s musical highlight: a scaled-down run of songs that included a ballad version of the Beatles “Help,” the slinky “Undercover Agent for the Blues,” the soul groove of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” and earthy funk of Ann Peebles’ “I Can’t Stand the Rain,” all Tina-fied.
A fireball medley of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and “It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll (but I Like It)” brought the crowd to its feet, while the James Bond theme “GoldenEye” was an obvious choice for more flashy production. But it was “Proud Mary,” the Creedence song she put her stamp on 37 years ago, that still can’t be beat, from slow and swampy nice to explosive and frantic rough.
For the encore, the former Anna Mae Bullock let loose with the biographical hometown rave-up “Nutbush City Limits” as she climbed into a cherry-picker crane that rose up from the stage floor and took her above the arena audience. The hoopla was contrasted by the gentle closing ballad “Be Tender With Me, Baby.”
Turner began the evening telling the mostly middle-aged crowd that she was offering “a show of my past.” But she delivered a confirmation that in the present, she’s every bit deserving of the marquee celebration at night’s end that flashed T-I-N-A, an icon— no, make that a queen — of American music.