August 13, 2007

Nice and Rough: Tina Turner - Rio ’88 Live in Concert

In the late 1970s, Tina Turner worked as a Las Vegas lounge act, a performer known more for her past than for any effort she was making to move beyond it.

On January 16, 1988, however, she entered Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro to an ecstatic audience of 180,000 like a triumphant heroine.

Recorded on the final night of her Break Every Rule world tour, Tina Turner: Rio ’88 documents the Queen of Rock & Roll in all her exhilarating glory, thrilling a massive Brazilian crowd, marking the apex of the mother of all music-career comebacks.

With only thirteen tracks, most of them from Turner’s two 1980s smash albums, Private Dancer and Break Every Rule, this DVD doesn’t comprise an entire concert. It does, however, capture the spirit of Tina Turner’s hard-earned resurgence to mainstream success. Also, and perhaps most importantly, it offers sufficient evidence as to what made this woman one of the most riveting and legendary live performers in music.

“Are you ready for me?” she asks at the start, like a cautionary warning.

Once the music begins, Tina Turner explodes in full force with a raw version of Robert Palmer’s “Addicted To Love” that, for all intents and purposes, switches ownership right then and there. While belting out “Better Be Good To Me,” she dances and struts around the stage like (or better than) Mick Jagger. And once she hits the bridge to “We Don’t Need Another Hero,” Turner looks and sounds like she has conquered the world.

More-subdued performances, like “Private Dancer” and “Paradise Is Here,” underscore Turner’s colossal strength and versatility as a vocalist. Her tempered, soulful version of The Beatles’ “Help” stands out as one of the finest highlights of this show.

With fireworks cascading over the stadium, Turner ignites on “Proud Mary,” gyrating, jumping, kicking, shimmying, and singing to the Credence Clearwater Revival classic that she had transformed into her own signature anthem.

Though, as indicated, Tina Turner: Rio ’88 does not make for a full show, it does offer the essence of a Tina Turner concert of that era. In doing so, it documents the immense talent of one iconic woman who exuded the energy, sex, and sweat of Rock & Roll better than almost anyone before or since.