Tina Turner appears to be thinking Las Vegas residency in her new “Tina!” revue. It has all the essentials: the hits, the covers, the Cirque-like dancers, historical footage, an invigorating video, an intimate section and, of course, plenty of costumes that sparkle. Five concerts into the tour, though, there are parts that lack cohesion, especially when the stage gets crowded with dancers attempting to re-draw the ’80s. For her part, though, Turner remains a full-throated ball of energy.
It’s her first tour in eight years, being staged to support the EMI compilation “Tina!,” an album that is practically a set list for the 26-song show. Song selection aims to serve the fans of her ’80s soft-rock/soul period and her longstanding reputation as the queen of rock ‘n’ roll; with so little to offer that’s of a newer vintage, this concert could have been pulled out of a time capsule — or used after the 2004 release “All the Best,” 2003’s “Simply the Best” or even 1994’s “Greatest Hits.” Beyond proving that Turner still has the pipes and the legs, there’s little to suggest she’s thinking about the future.
The songs, for the most part, have not been altered to strip the tunes of any dated effects — “Typical Male” still has a bouncy outdated synthesizer sound, the guitars on “What You Get is What You See” are straight out of Mellencamp-Springsteen of the era and her take on “Addicted to Live” is Velcro’d to Robert Palmer’s version, down to the expressionless woman on the video. Her two movie hits truly did not fare well Monday at Staples Center: the James Bond track “Goldeneye” felt unformed and gloppy; “We Don’t Need Another Hero” lacked a star-to-finish consistency.
Her ability to deliver a rock song, though, feels unchanged from the ’60s and ’70s. “River Deep – Mountain High” was potent if slightly off in the mix with the backup singers too loud; a medley of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll” — with vintage footage of the Rolling Stones and Turner on the screen behind her — set the bar for a no-nonsense perf; and “Nutbush City Limits,” with Turner on a moveable catwalk that extended over the crowd, was the evening’s energetic highpoint.
Most inviting section of the evening is an informal acoustic block of three songs that opens the second act. Turner wraps herself around a ballad reading of the Beatles’ “Help!,” a tune she first recorded for the “Private Dancer” album. Her rendition of the Ann Peebles’ hit “I Can’t Stand the Rain” solidly connected gospel with Southern rock ‘n’ roll; “Private Dancer” was a mixed bag: the band pushed it toward a Steely Dan vibe that invested it with new life, but her emphasis on the word “for” — as in “dancer FOR money” — gave the rendition an awkward air. She seemed in need of a breather while singing, off key, “What’s Love Got to do With it”; she never sounded in control.
Turner’s nod to the 21st century is strictly theatrical — and largely unnecessary. A troupe of acrobats known as the Ninjas first appear onstage pretending to be fans who have snuck on. A chase with “security” ensues and it turns into an unseemly brawl. It does nothing for the show. Later, they appear in sequences that are a bit too spot-on with the songs’ videos — the two movie tunes, for example — and their movements not only tarnish the nostalgia, but restrict the tunes from achieving a modern relevance.
At 67, Turner has turned over most of the shimmying to her quintet of dancers and the best visual moments occur when Turner and hoofers are engaged with one another. In far too many places they are off in their own world, doing movements that distract more than appeal, especially when viewed from the permanent seats that ring the arena.
The video screen tells a far different story. This show appears to be more designed for homevideo than live entertainment. Quick cuts are used quite well throughout as three constantly moving cameras capture Turner, the dancers and the band from an astounding number of angles. This is the rare show that might actually look better from the sound board straight back than a seat near the lip of the stage where the signer’s facial expressions can be seen. Oddly, Turner introduced every person involved in the show, including the lighting and sound techs. She might want to include the video director.
Turner has a string of Gotham area shows: Nov. 26 and 27 at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., Dec. 1 at Madison Square Garden and Dec. 3 and 4 at Nassau Coliseum.