For Tina Turner's show, showmanship is everything

August 02, 1993|By J.D. Considine | J.D. Considine,Pop Music Critic

What's showmanship got to do with it?

In the case of Tina Turner, everything. Because it wasn't her nonstop string of hits that had the fans screaming for more last night at the Merriweather Post Pavilion -- it was the fact that Turner performed each and every one of them with so much energy and intensity that merely watching her was enough to leave you sweat-soaked and panting.

Not that anyone in the house just sat and watched. Part of Turner's concert strategy was to get the audience involved, whether in a battle-of-the-sexes chant in "What's Love Got to Do With It?" or simply singing along on the final refrain to the show-closing "Better Be Good to Me

But even when they weren't joining in, Turner had her fans on their feet for much of the evening, from the anthemic choruses of "We Don't Need Another Hero" to the high-octane roar of "Proud Mary."

Yet for all the enthusiasm she generated, Turner's performance -- on a vocal level, anyway -- was nothing to write home about. Sure,she threw sparks in "Private Dancer," and made the most of a pro forma rocker like "The Best." But her rendition of "Let's Stay Together" stuck too close to Al Green's original, while a few songs -- "Undercover Agent for the Blues" in particular -- found her struggling to make her low notes heard.

No matter. What counts in show biz isn't what you do, but how it comes across. And last night, Tina comes across. And last night, Tina Turner came across as one of the most electrifying performers in rock. To paraphrase one of her hits, she's simply the best.

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