The last decade has been one Ike Turner would rather forget. The rock ‘n’ roll pioneer was busted for cocaine possession, lost his Inglewood sound studio in a fire, was portrayed as a spouse abuser in a popular film, and has watched ex-wife Tina’s career flourish while his own has faded from view.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member emerged from his obscurity like a blast from another era on Friday at the House of Blues, with singing-dancing Ikettes and a horn section that included players from the old Ike & Tina days. The new Ike Turner Revue was a high-energy re-creation of the ‘60s and ‘70s, and on Friday it limited its repertoire almost entirely to songs popular then.
The club was virtually full, with both young and older fans, for 90 minutes of aging rock and R&B; standards, from “Knock on Wood” to the Beatles’ “Come Together.” The performances ranged from the occasionally tentative to heights so spectacular that Turner’s lost years seemed even more tragic.
But the song list seemed to trap the guitarist-bandleader in the past. A few newer titles--maybe by the likes of Prince or Lenny Kravitz, whose works are rooted in the rock and R&B; tradition Turner helped create--would have blended easily into his show while updating it.
This rare appearance also had Turner repeating another old habit: stepping back most of the time to spotlight the vocals of his Ikettes. But the show was often at its most moving when Turner took a blues-rock guitar solo. His lead playing was Turner’s best, most distinctive asset, and may offer the most direct route to reasserting himself on the pop scene of the ‘90s.