When the red curtain finally parted, it looked like an apparition. There was Tina Turner, cast in silhouette with a blinding spotlight on that fabulous shaggy mane, right where she belongs: on a pedestal high above the crowd.
Turner is on her first world tour in eight years, and she's been missed. Just ask the four women who sported spiky, Tina-like wigs at the sold-out TD Banknorth Garden last night, the first of two consecutive shows (tickets are available for tonight's concert).
Let's get this out of the way: Turner's legs still look fantastic, enough so that most of her spangled costumes played up her most famous asset. And her voice has held up just as well, seemingly untouched by time if a bit grittier on a few songs. She didn't always go in for the kill on her most bombastic hits, but she at least stuck to lower notes better suited to her voice at age 68.
That's right - Tina Turner is 68, a number her performance defied at the Garden. Turner's energy was boundless as it carried her through an impressive catalog of hits: "Proud Mary," "Private Dancer," and "River Deep Mountain High."
On "What's Love Got to Do With It," she turned the tables on the audience for a battle of the sexes. She wanted the ladies to cop some serious attitude on the chorus. And the men? Well, Turner likes them strong and wanted them to roar. "You mean to tell me Boston has no men?" she asked in mock disgust when the guys failed to do so.
An intermission gave way to a video montage of Turner throughout the years, from her early days as a muse to her late former husband, Ike Turner, to international rock star at home on the biggest stages.
Seated with her band, she warmed up the second set with intimate, low-key covers that almost felt acoustic, including the Beatles' "Help!" and Al Green's "Let's Stay Together." But even when she was sitting, Turner sang like she was working the length of the stage. She was back on her feet for "Jumpin' Jack Flash" as old footage of her vamping with the Rolling Stones played behind her.
For "We Don't Need Another Hero," Turner dusted off a long blond wig like the one she wore in "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome." It was almost as over the top as the claps of pyrotechnics that closed the song.
"Proud Mary," at first swampy and then full-throttle, got the showstopper treatment. She had some advice for everyone who wanted to sing it with her: "Put your hands on your hips. Then let your backbone slip."
For "Nutbush City Limits," Turner again rode a crane that shuttled her above the audience. This time she wasn't on a pedestal, but her thunderous fans treated her like she was.
James Reed can be reached at email@example.com.