The ‘mind-boggling’ night Tina Turner launched her last concert tour in Kansas City

Tina Turner opened the last tour of her legendary career in 2008 in front of a sold-out crowd of 18,000 people she whipped “into a frenzy” inside Kansas City’s Sprint Center, now T-Mobile Center.

The “queen of rock ’n’ roll” died Wednesday at her home in Switzerland. She was 83.

Her last concerts in Kansas City were a treat for fans — a musical legend performing in the city’s gleaming new arena, not even a year old at the time.

Turner hadn’t performed a full concert tour in eight years since her 2000 Twenty Four Seven world tour. She played two shows in Kansas City, on Oct. 1 and 8, 2008, to kick off 90 concerts in North America and Europe.

Tina Turner launching her last concert tour at Kansas City’s Sprint Center in October 2008.
Tina Turner launching her last concert tour at Kansas City’s Sprint Center in October 2008.

It was a greatest-hits tour, a 50th anniversary celebration for a woman born the daughter of a poor Tennessee farm worker who met a bandleader named Ike Turner in St. Louis in 1957 and began a storied, stormy life.

“It was a show that would have exhausted someone half her age, but Turner got through 90 shows and amazed every single night,” wrote Rolling Stone.

She outperformed her age both nights here.

“Turner will turn 69 in November, but after watching her whip a sold-out arena into a frenzy, that number loses all context,” the Star’s Timothy Finn wrote of the first show on Oct. 1.

“This show was mind-boggling in many ways. For one, it was the first of the tour. Initial outings usually suffer a few obvious bumps and mishaps. Not this one. Second, she is still in her 50th year of live performance, yet she still has the endurance and durability of performers — men included — much younger than she is.”

Kansas City audiences were some of the last to see Tina Turner perform live in a concert series in October 2008 at the Sprint Center, now T-Mobile Center.
Kansas City audiences were some of the last to see Tina Turner perform live in a concert series in October 2008 at the Sprint Center, now T-Mobile Center.

He noted that at one point in the show, a large screen behind her showed 30-year-old footage of her dancing with Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones, and the “juxtaposition was enlightening: Someone in that picture isn’t nearly what he used to be. Turner has evolved quite nicely.”

And oh, her shoes.

“I won’t completely spoil the encore for anyone going to the Oct. 8 show, but there was a moment where she was standing atop a somewhat narrow strip of runway at least eight feet above the crowd in the first 20 rows, dancing. In high heels,” Finn wrote.

The show went on for 150 minutes, including a half-hour intermission, and “she played about everything any fan — casual or devout — would want to hear:” “Steamy Windows,” “Typical Male,” “Better Be Good to Me,” “Private Dancer,” “What’s Love Got to Do With It” and “We Don’t Need Another Hero.”

“She ended on a roll: “Proud Mary,” “Nutbush City Limits” and “Be Tender With Me,” Finn wrote.

Tina Turner performed two sold-out shows at Kansas City’s Sprint Cener to launch what would be her last concert tour.
Tina Turner performed two sold-out shows at Kansas City’s Sprint Cener to launch what would be her last concert tour.

“It was an extravaganza. I saw Turner out at Sandstone (now Azura Amphitheater) more than 10 years ago, and I swear she was more energetic this time than she was then. I understand why so many fans are infatuated with her and all she represents: strength, survival — someone who has earned and deserves every scrap of legend and praise that comes her way.”

And those are the same sentiments being shared on the day she died.

Kansas City will have a chance to remember her in December when “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical” plays as part of the PNC Broadway in Kansas City season. The jukebox musical tells her story, using her music as the soundtrack of her life, from her humble beginnings to her rise as a rock ‘n’ roll legend.

“Tina: The Tina Turner Musical” will run Dec. 5-10 at the Music Hall.
“Tina: The Tina Turner Musical” will run Dec. 5-10 at the Music Hall.