Archival review: Tina Stuns ‘Em (in Chattanooga in 1985)

Chattanooga News-Free Press, Nov. 11, 1985

To mark Tina Turner's death, the Chattanooga Times Free Press is republishing this Free Press review of her 1985 show at UTC. Read the Chattanooga Times review here.

It was one of those shows that started out great and got better and better. It was probably the best show the UTC Arena has ever hosted. It was certainly the best show many of the 9,000 people in attendance had ever seen.

There was a buzz in the air as the crowd filed out of The Roundhouse Saturday night after Tina Turner burned through Bruce Springsteen's "Dancin' in the Dark," her second encore. People seemed stunned by sensory overload.

"An energetic show" The energy was feverish. To that add singing so intense it occasionally pinned people in their seats, dancing and slithering in spiked heels across the stage and up steps, 10,000 miles of legs and an electric haystack of hair, closeups of Tina's expressive, fascinating face on a huge video screen, growling, tantalizing asides between songs, a great band that featured a behemoth keyboard/saxophone player you would definitely want to keep your daughter away from maybe it was all too much. No. It was just right. It was a magical night. Maybe they're all like that for her, but not for us.

It didn't start out that way, though The concert began promptly at 8 pm with Mr Mister, a rock band from Los Angeles. The next 45 minutes were grueling, sometimes painful ones. It wasn't all their fault, the sound was terrible (not for Tina, though) But it was mostly their fault. The applause died before they could even get off the stage.

Thirty-five minutes after their departure people had been waiting a long, long time for Tina by now the room darkened and the video screen above the stage showed the singer slipping into shoes and teasing hair in preparation to meet her adoring public. Then she exploded through the stage door to join the band in "Show Some Respect" from her Private Dancer comeback album Tina was poured into a one-piece, white garment She had a string of pearls around her neck and for a short time wore a short white jacket.

"Are you ready for me?" she asked seductively through a huge, toothy grin. The crowd was hers. After every song a wave of love would hit the stage. The woman is a riveting presence on stage. She shimmies and struts, tosses the wig, laughs and grimaces (the video camera, which she plays as well as an audience, catches it all) and throws the full force of her high-voltage body and soul into her vocals. She performs with the joy and confidence of someone who knows she's beaten Father Time. Think. Tina Turner will be 46 years old in two weeks!

It was on "Better Be Good to Me," the sixth song, that the show took off and never returned to earth. The song was faster and harder than on Private Dancer. The singer and her longtime pianist Kenny Moore mounted an elevated stage facing the rear seats to act out a domestic quarrel during the song, then Tina exited. Moore took over, ably killing time to cover the costume change, which was partly shown on the video screen.

The Hot One returned with her famous legs bare and her body wrapped in a white, feather boa to sing "Private Dancer" (She sang all but one song from the album). The number took a rudely comical turn with muscleman Tim Capello's pornographic sax solo Tina later introduced him as playing "sexophone."

Would the Arena crumble into a pile of scrap metal with thousands of bodies buried within?

That question flashed through a lot of minds as a deep, rumbling, very loud synthesizer note oozed into the darkness and slowly began shaking The Roundhouse.

Lights up, the boa gone, and Tina, in a skimpy, blue thing, was "One of the Living."

"What's Love Got to Do With It" was sing-along time Boys versus girls.

"You guys should be good at this. You've been saying it all your lives," said Tina to roaring laughter.

The screaming ovation after the song faded into "Let's Stay Together," another stunning vocal that left the audience awed and stomping for more. She gave them "Help." The Beatles rocker she performs as a show-stopping ballad.

"I never, ever seem to do anything nice and easy," she rasped deliberately in beginning her famous intro to "Proud Mary." "That is because I like to do it nice and rough."

A stretched version of John Fogerty's American classic, her fourteenth song, closed the show, with the crowd roaring at Tina's dancing between the verses. She was gone at 10:30 p.m. Had it only been an hour and 10 minutes?

Some serious noisemaking brought her back for a 20-minute, breathless danceathon built around "Steel Claw," an old rocker called "Let's Dance" and ZZ Top's "Legs," which carries the line that must have been written with her in mind. "She knows how to use them."

Tina returned alone to thank the audience for "supporting me in my comeback." Then the band joined her for "Dancin' in the Dark," and the floor became a sea of raised, clapping hands.

It seemed a fitting final song. Springsteen is one of a handful of people in the world in Tina Turner's class as a rock 'n' roll performer.