Tina's new concert is everything from enchanting and touching to powerful and wonderful.
The enchanting end of the spectrum I was expecting, from having seen Tina live before (just give me Sorrento Moon and I'm happy), however, the other end of range was a delightful surprise, and sometimes I couldn't stop thinking we were just a few short steps from her going into a full tilt Shirley Bassey mode.
This series of concerts is very special, as they are a vision Tina has long cherished for several decades and that now have finally come to fruition.
Here Tina's regular band lined the front of the Concert Hall's stage: piano and backing singer to our left, guitars and drums to our right. The rest of the stage was filled with the Sydney Symphony orchestra. So a very diverse range of instruments that befits Tina's equally extensive and diverse talents and musical vision. And Tina, in a small range of elegant and stylish outfits, comfortably moved around the front and back of the stage and along the two isles through the orchestra while talking and singing, with both band and orchestra playing in unison.
Naturally a symphony orchestra is capable of a wide range of beautiful and delightful sonic colours and textures, which here perfectly complimented both the songs and Tina's diverse voice, that can go from enchanting elegant and subtly nuanced to big and powerful.
This concert was a mixture of many of Tina's old favourites, many sung with a fresh perspective, intermingled with the reasonably new addition to her repertoire of songs from a wide range of contemporary styles, some older, some not.
Storytelling is very important to Tina and she explained her recent diversification of song choice started as a wish to pay tribute to Dusty Springfield. As this vision progressed it expanded into singing a wide range of beloved songs. Though at the time of inception she thought no one would want to hear an album from her, let alone singing such songs.
For me, this couldn't be further from the truth. Speaking personally, I love Tina's voice, her approach to singing and the songs she both writes and selects. Also, the fact that the Opera House's largest auditorium was full and this national concert series keeps getting extended is I suspect a testament to the fact I am not alone in this opinion. It is a shame the media keep referring only to Tina's major success in France. I lived in the UK when I got into Tina's singing. "I remember" it was just over a decade ago when I heard "that song" a few times on the radio over several months, and on work trips to Vancouver Canada it was equally easy to buy three of her albums there.
Naturally this concert had a selection of songs from her two superb Songs Of Love And Loss albums, and this focus on storytelling was very evident throughout the performance, from the early Kate Bush's The Man With The Child In His Eyes all the way through to Joni Mitchell's Clouds in the encore.
Also one of Tina's talents was demonstrated in two songs, That's The Way A Woman Feels and another song from a show she'd been in, through her singing of these songs, she explains, to this male, what it is like for a woman to love a man.
Of course another way to start this review would be with an obvious 'expanded and upgraded water' metaphor - from Moonee Ponds to Sydney Harbour - local girl done good. Done great in fact. And the Sydney Opera House is a befitting venue for Tina. Both are Australian icons, known and much beloved by many around the world, although their initial DNA is from Europe.
Tina is incredibly comfortable on stage. Tina also has a delightful voice, both her singing voice and speaking voice. Technically she has a good trill and vibrato, though it is the emotional expression of this seasoned professional that is most impressive.
From having seen Tina in concert once before I was familiar with her style of talking to the audience: intimate, insightful, real, honest and one-to-one matter of fact, including when giving a background to a song.
It was also good to see her looking in good spirits, I've not been watching the talent show, so the last time I saw Tina was in a long TV interview where she talked about the hard life the music industry can be. However here she was healthy, relaxed and at ease.
The set also included Don't Cry For Me Argentina as Tina was impressed with Madonna's rendition. There was also the standard Wasn't It Good, Made Me Find Myself and as mentioned That's A Way A Woman Feels.
Tina also did a very moving rendition of Only Women Bleed.
The concert initially ended with I'm In Chains, with Tina adding, "No I'm not." And her singing certain key lines, such as "never thought we'd make it here" while making eye-contact with long-serving band members and gesturing to Utzon's major hall. Tina then did the usual thanks you to each member of her band: piano, guitar, drums, bass guitarist, as well as conductor and then lead violinist. However, rather than just say all these thanks you, the musicians continued to play Chains, while Tina sang all these introductions and 'thank you's to the melody of the song.
The encore consisted of two songs. The first was a superbly considered and introspective rendition of Joni Mitchell's Clouds. It's a bit unfair comparing a live performance with mere recordings, however I think this is the finest performance I've heard of this song. The second song was Blondie's Call Me.
Hopefully Tina does more tours where she is appropriately orchestra backed. If she doesn't get to implement this long held vision again, then at least we could say to Tina, I remember, when it all came true, it was all so tender, when we were lost in you…
It is good the collective consciousness is coming round to the realisation Tina is a talented national treasure.