I’ve been a fan of Tina Turner’s for a long time, but have never had an opportunity to see her perform live until now. And the opportunity came as quite a surprise to me. I got to the office on Wednesday morning and found a FedEx package on my desk. At first I thought it was one of those cleaver promo pieces that artists and photographers use to try and get hired, until I looked closer. They turned out to be real tickets to see Tina at the the Prudential Center in Newark on Thanksgiving night—mezzanine level, first row, stage left. It turned out to be a good seat.
I was able to find some videos on YouTube.com that were taken the night I was there. So if you click on the links that are song titles, you will get the actual performance from Thanksgiving or the night before. But be warned, the quality is not that great. There are clips at the end.
Tina Turner definitely rocked “The Rock” (the nickname for the Prudential Center). To say the least, the show was exciting and high-energy all the way. It was really special being once I found out it was her 50th Anniversary Tour. Each time something exciting happened, I would use my BlackBerry and “tweet” updates to my friends who use Twitter. The show opened with “Steamy Windows” and just got hotter from there. At one point during the show, Tina left the stage. The band was still playing and a guy seemed to jump on the stage from the audience. A security guard chased him around the stage while the band played on. Once the stage jumper began doing acrobatic moves we realized it was all a part of the show. They were “special guest” called The Ninjas. There were two other “fight” scenes when it was time for costume changes. Tina performed for two hours, with a thirty-minute intermission in between each hour. Right before intermission the stage exploded with pyrotechnics and fireworks. The place was literally smoking.
After intermission, there was an acoustic type set with several bluesy numbers that started with “Help.” The large screens projected in black and white, which was a nice added touch. Next came one of my favorites, her cover of “Let’s Stay Together.” The song was sweet! The backup singers were killing it on that song.
Speaking of backup singers, one of them was Lisa Fischer. She is known as the long-time backup singer for Luther Vandross. She also won a Grammy for her single, “How Can I Ease the Pain.” Lisa and I graduated from high school together—the class of 1976, Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art in NYC. She was a vocal major, of course, and I was an art major. It’s been a few years since I’ve spoken to her so it was a pleasant surprise seeing her on stage and hearing that incredible voice of hers. She got a little of the spotlight with “Only Rock and Roll.”
It’s hard to select a highlight of the show—there were so many high points. But I guess the main highlight has to been during the “encore” segment when Tina sings “Nutbush City Limits.” She gets on this mechanical arm that has a long catwalk and a “basket” like platform at the end. The arm swings out over the audience and Tina hangs over the edge of the basket doing a call and repeat with the audience answering with “Nutbush, Nutbush city limits…” The catwalk section has no rails and is about three-feet in width, but Tina runs, struts and dances along that thing like there’s nothing to it. I was nervous for her, but obviously she is used to it. Watching her dance along that thing was definitely a highlight for the audience.
I found out that for the previous night’s show, Beyoncé and Jay-Z showed up backstage to wish Tina a happy 69th birthday. That night, after the intermission, she dedicated one of the songs to them.
Since I didn’t take my camera, all these images are photos I took of the souvenir program. They are much better than any photos I could have taken from my seat in the mezzanine section.
I searched to YouTube for some clips from this current tour. It seems quite a few concert-goers used their camera phones or just wiped out camcorders. Though they are from different venues, the shows are basically the same. Hopefully, this gave you a taste of the Tina Turner experience.
It was simply the best!