Tina Turner is ever the professional, but even she has her bad days, when everything seems to go wrong. Opening night of her 1985 Private Dancer tour in Helsinki, Finland was one of these days. When Tina enters the stage, she is surrounded by smoke, making it impossible for her to sing. She simply shouts out “TOO MUCH SMOKE!”, and gives her stage technician a piece of her mind, before continuing the song as if nothing has happened. Later during the show, she confesses to the audience that she is tired of performing Proud Mary – her self-acclaimed favorite song.
Tina is human after all, and even she can be in a grumpy mood. Whatever may have happened on February 19 of 1985, it is clear that Tina is not ‘into’ the show, right from the beginning. Maybe it is the stress of opening night. Maybe it is her overloaded schedule: she only finished her 1984 tour around Christmas, then went on for promotion of her new album, tour rehearsals and a week later she is expected at the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. Maybe she is not feeling well: two weeks later she collapsed with the flu after shows in Germany. Anyway – the result is short temper. When performing the opening song ‘Let’s Pretend We’re Married’, she almost suffocates with the amount of smoke on the stage. She goes to the side of the stage to yell to her technician: she misses a few lines of the song, but then goes right back into it like nothing’s happened. Luckily, Finnish television was there to capture this moment!
Tina shows her frustration again during Proud Mary. She usually adds a couple of spoken lines at the end of the song, something like:
“I’ve been doing this song a long time. And you know what? The longer I do it, the better it gets!”
However, doing ‘Mary’ for the zillionth time even gets boring for Tina, and this night she decides to change her line to:
“I’ve been doing this song a long time. And you know what? I’M TIRED OF IT!”
After that she adds:
“People ask me, when am I gonna slow down? You know what I tell them: I can’t stop now!”
It sounds like Tina clearly needed a break, and all of this during opening night, with still some 180 shows to go for the rest of the year. Hopefully, winning three Grammy Awards a week later eased the pain a bit, and helped her find her groove back.
Audience recording of Proud Mary
The full setlist of the show:
01. Let’s Pretend We’re Married
02. Show Some Respect
03. I Might Have Been Queen
04. River Deep, Mountain High
05. Nutbush City Limits
06. What’s Love Got To Do With It?
07. I Can’t Stand The Rain
08. Better Be Good To Me
09. Private Dancer
10. Let’s Stay Together
Introduction of the band
12. Proud Mary
13. Steel Claw
14. It’s Only Love (with Bryan Adams)
15. Out Of Time