Tina Turner Kicks Off Tour With Stiletto'd Style

Veteran singer's show, featuring Lionel Richie opening, covers decades of hits with tireless energy.

MADISON, Wis.Tina Turner covered her more than 40 years of musical history in a flashy, two-hour show Friday. Like the songs Turner sang, the sellout crowd of more than 17,000 ran the gamut in age.

But from the teenage girls in the upper deck to the 40-something guy in the John Lennon T-shirt to the group of 50-ish women who kept yelling, "We love you, Tina!" they were nearly all on their feet for the duration of the second show of Turner's "Twenty Four Seven" world tour.

All except for the couple who appeared to be in their late 60s and left 40 minutes into the 60-year-old Turner's set. "This is too loud," the woman said on her way out.

Turner — with her seven-piece band, three dancers and two backup singers (including Gloria Reuben from the TV show "ER") — cranked out a sound that was as high-energy as the singer's frenetic dancing.

From the opening number, a cover of Sly and the Family Stone's 1969 hit "I Want to Take You Higher," to the title track (RealAudio excerpt) from Turner's Twenty Four Seven (Feb. 1), Turner and the band produced a slick sound dominated by a distorted twin-guitar attack that gave nearly all the material more punch live than in their recorded versions.

Turner's set included 20 songs, seven costume changes and video accompaniment to some of her biggest hits. About the only constant throughout the evening were the stiletto heels she wore from start to finish.

After "Absolutely Nothing's Changed," from her new album, Turner said hello and offered the crowd five loud smooches before promising a "journey of my career."

The journey began with "A Fool in Love," Turner's first hit as a member of the Ike and Tina Turner Revue in 1960. Black-and-white footage of a young Turner played on screens on both sides of the stage as she sang. Film clips also ran when she sang "Acid Queen," from the 1975 film of the Who's "Tommy," and on her version of the Phil Spector-produced Ike and Tina single "River Deep, Mountain High."

Clips from the 1985 film "Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome," in which Turner had a starring role, played as she changed from her white blouse and slacks into a tight, black vinyl top and capri pants. "We Don't Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)" and a revved-up version of "Better Be Good to Me" (RealAudio excerpt) (1984) followed. Turner sang "Private Dancer," the title track of her 1984 comeback album, while perched high atop the three-level stage as her three dancers performed with chairs on the main level.

The 10-minute version of the song, which included lengthy guitar and saxophone solos, seemed to dissipate some of the momentum Turner had built up. But she quickly got it back when she emerged in sheer black slacks — revealing a black thong — to sing Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" and "What's Love Got to Do With It" (RealAudio excerpt), also from Private Dancer, which she turned into a crowd sing-along.

Turner ended the evening with a powerful version of the 1971 Ike-and-Tina cover of the Creedence Clearwater Revival hit "Proud Mary" (RealAudio excerpt) that, judging from the crowd response, remains one of her signature tunes. The show ended with a rocking "Nutbush City Limits," done in the style of her 1993 reprise of that song, and a lengthy version of "Twenty Four Seven."

As the crowd filed out at midnight, the fans seemed drained. "How's she going to keep that up night after night?" one asked.

"There was a lot of razzle-dazzle," said Emily Watson, 30, of Madison, who also had seen a Turner show in 1997. "Her voice was even stronger tonight than it was back then, though."

Lionel Richie opened the show with a one-hour set that began in darkness as he sang the first verse of his 1983 ballad "Hello" (RealAudio excerpt). The lights came up when he hit the first "hello," to reveal him standing at a mic at center-stage, dressed in a steel-gray silk shirt and shimmering burgundy pants.

Richie's 11-song set included material from throughout his solo career, such as "Dancing on the Ceiling" (1986) and "All Night Long (All Night)" (1983), but focused equally on his days with the funk act the Commodores. Some of those selections so inspired a woman in the upper deck that she repeatedly screamed: "We still love you, Lionel!"