Tina Arena has always been one of my all-time favourite artists. Over the last 30 years she’s soundtracked a number of important hallmark moments with her music. Too young to have been won over by her on Young Talent Time, my first exposure to Tina was through the release of her second single in 1990, the iconic ‘I Need Your Body’, whose video clip saw Arena dancing about what looked like Melbourne’s The Forum, almost bursting out of her tightly-fitted and booberiffic ensemble.
I watched the video clip in absolute awe, and not just because of the outfit. That voice slayed my entire childhood existence in four minutes flat and, from that moment on, to me, she would forever be known as Queena Arena. I remember begging my parents to take me to the local Brashs to buy the cassette single, a siren song I would repeat a few months later when her debut album Strong as Steel was released. Both cassettes would end up completely worn out, replaced only some years later when I would purchase the album on Compact Disc.
In the years that have followed, Tina continued to soundtrack moments I’ll never forget. I remember (HAR HAR) when ‘Sorrento Moon’ was released – coming off the back of the biggest single of its year, ‘Chains’, it was being played everywhere. I went to a high school disco that played it no less than SIX times during the five hour event, and all six times everybody sang along to every single word. When ‘Symphony of Life’ was released I was sure she had crafted her finest, most exquisite single and album. Tina’s played an important part in my musical upbringing. Yet, amazingly, it was only last month, 2014, that I would see her live in concert for the very first time.
Walking into St Kilda’s iconic Palais Theatre, I was directed to my seat (nine rows FROM THE BLOODY FRONT) where I sat, near combustion, as I waited for Queena to grace the stage. Two bottles of Pepsi, one visit to the merch stand and two support acts later, The Arena Spectacular began. Opening with ‘Let Me In’ and ‘Out of the Blue’ – two of my favourites from her brilliant 2013 album Reset – proved the perfect introduction to what would be a breathtaking show.
As Tina greeted us, we were then treated to the downright funk of brilliant Just Me singles ‘Soul Mate #9’ and ‘Dare You to Be Happy’, the latter which had people jumping out of their seats and dancing in the aisles.
Other big moments would follow. I almost lost it hearing ‘Sorrento Moon’ live, but perhaps not as much as when I heard ‘Symphony of Life’ or ‘Never (Past Tense)’ in the flesh. Other pearls from Reset, like ‘Don’t Look Back’, ‘Only Lonely’ and ‘Reset All’, proved this last album to be her most accomplished, whereas classic hits like ‘Burn’ solidified why we bloody love this woman so much.
Now let me tell you about the encore. Never in my years as a pop music fan have I ever witnessed a more iconic, mind-blowing and life-altering encore as the one I would experience at Tina Arena’s Reset Tour. Allow me to explain.
First of all, Tina walked on stage and performed ‘Chains’. CHAINS, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN. This is not a song that is taken lightly, so hearing the woman herself perform it live before my very eyes was about as close to a religious experience as you’re going to get in music. At this point I was a shaking mess, partly because of ‘Chains’, but also because I knew what was coming.
Tina hasn’t performed her iconic 1990 single ‘I Need Your Body’ since about 1991. Thanks to fan requests and Tina herself finally “making peace” with the song, there it was, the second number in the encore set. I honestly thought I was going to burst through the roof of The Palais how excited and delirious I was. Then, after all of the commotion of the first two tracks in the encore, the show-stopping finale nearly left me for dead. Tina sang what is now easily my favourite of all her singles, 2013’s magnetic ‘You Set Fire to My Life’. People roared and screamed, everybody got up to dance, including Molly Meldrum and even Gary Sweet, who was sitting right behind me.
Two of the best moments in the show actually came from candid Tina-banter, rather than a performance. When she was about to introduce ‘I Need Your Body’, she mentioned it was from 1990, to which a fan in the audience attempted correcting her to 1989. “Um, actually, No Mate, it was 1990. Okay?” BRILLIANT.
The second? “Oh shit, somebody let a fly in! Has anybody got some mortein? Oh actually no, what about a fly swatter? I bloody love those things.”
Moments like this, mixed with live performances of some of the most incredible music you’ll ever hear, is reason enough for me to ensure I never miss a Tina show ever again. It may have taken me twenty-four years to see this majestic woman in concert, but it will not be that long before I see her again.
Written by Adem Ali. For more music news and reviews follow @AdemWithAnE on Twitter!