A meteorologist might have tried to explain Saturday night's spectacular weather display over Southern California as a combination of unseasonal heat, humidity and high pressure fronts.
But anyone who was at Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre on Saturday knows that the real cause of the thunder, lightning and cloudbursts was Hurricane Tina--Turner, that is--who swept through the place like a full force gale.
Coming on the high, high heels of her phenomenal return to form with last year's "Private Dancer" smash album and her film success in "Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome," Turner made her comeback victory complete with an electrifying concert performance.
From the moment Turner burst on the Amphitheatre stage, her frosted lion's mane hair cascading wildly over the shoulders of a white corset-like top and body-hugging pedal pushers, the only question was the one she posed to the capacity crowd: "Are you ready for me?"
Indeed, some of the audience's younger members who have been raised on the synthetic emotions that prevail on MTV may not have been prepared for the sheer intensity she injected into "Show Some Respect" or the painful resignation of "Private Dancer."
Turner remains one of rock's outstanding vocalists, bending and shaping notes for dramatic emphasis and shifting timbre to add color, yet always in a completely natural and unaffected manner. Her jagged-edged voice gives perfect expression to the survivor of love's ravages who is so often at the center of her recent songs.
On "What's Love Got to Do With It," she surpassed her own Grammy-winning recording with cries of desperation that didn't stop at laying bare her own soul, but extended out into the night to wrench the heart of the listener.
Besides nine songs from "Private Dancer," Turner tapped her Mad Max connection with film clips shown on a large video screen during back-to-back performances of "One of the Living" and "We Don't Need Another Hero." In one of four costume changes, she welded herself into a chain-mail minidress similar to the provocative outfit she wore in the film.
Adding to the otherworldy atmosphere was the hulking form of keyboardist-saxophonist Tim Cappello, whose body-builder physique, studded leather bracelet and chain-link neckwear made him look like an escapee from Mad Max's Bartertown. Less physically outrageous than Cappello, but still musically imposing was pianist and vocalist Kenny Moore, who led the powerhouse six-man band and contributed silky falsetto work on several tunes to complement Turner's grittiness.
Acknowledging her hits of previous years, Turner delivered rollicking performances of "Nutbush City Limits" and "River Deep, Mountain High," as well as an extended version of "Proud Mary," during which she playfully reminded the audience that, even at 46, Turner still "never, ever does nuthin' nice and easy."
Second-billed John Parr, who also opens Turner's shows Tuesday through Saturday at the Universal Amphitheatre, turned in a 45-minute set of generic Foreigner-style mainstream rock, distinguished only by the catchy "St. Elmo's Fire (Man in Motion)" single.