Whenever Pink would arrive at a curse word in one of her songs Friday night, she’d pull her microphone away from her mouth and let the expletive go unheard.
The singer was spotting lots of young children in the crowd, she explained near the end of her show at Anaheim’s Honda Center, which had the mother of two feeling “kind of proud-mom-ish,” as she put it with characteristic charm.
It was the only way in which she held back all night.
One of pop’s most ambitious — and most committed — live performers, Pink has long viewed the concert stage as a space for grand-scale spectacle. And this show, part of a world tour behind last year’s “Beautiful Trauma” album, went beyond anything she’s done before.
It opened with the singer doing “Get the Party Started” while hanging from a flame-throwing chandelier. It featured a stories-tall blow-up doll of Eminem, which rather convincingly mimed the rapper’s verse from their duet “Revenge.”
And it climaxed with Pink hooked into a complicated, gyroscope-like rig that allowed her to fly at high speed from one end of the arena to the other as she belted her song “So What,” about being a rock star with rock moves.
If this is how rock stars are supposed to move, we need to start demanding a lot more from Dave Grohl and Mick Jagger.
Yet for all Pink’s razzle-dazzle — and let me be clear in saying that this new aerial stunt was truly astounding — the primary effect of Friday’s production wasn’t practical or technological but emotional.
You left the gig feeling as if you had been spoken to from the heart, which in a room as big as this one might be the more impressive feat.
So how does Pink do it? She starts with great songs, of course: sturdy, vivid tunes like “Who Knew” and “Try” and “What About Us” that aim for all the big feelings — romance, resentment, desperation — with a refreshing disregard for appearing insufficiently hip.
On record Pink can seem slightly old-fashioned, even if her music often utilizes the textures of the day, as in “Beautiful Trauma’s” Jack Antonoff-produced title track.
Stacked back to back, though, her hit singles from the last two decades put across an idea of timelessness; she’s still taking a broadly universal approach (instead of micro-tailoring her music to the latest meme à la Drake or Katy Perry) because people are still craving romance and they’re still resenting mistreatment and they’re still feeling desperate — and they always will.
In Anaheim, Pink brought those durable sensations to life with consistently powerful singing, whether she was reaching toward the top of her range in “Just Give Me a Reason,” digging deep for a churchy “I Am Here” or happily screaming her guts out in a cover of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
Her dancing, too, was highly expressive in sophisticated choreography that didn’t act out the songs so much as manifest their themes in physical form.
In some instances Pink was connecting with fans one on one. During an acoustic rendition of her song “Barbies,” she climbed down to the floor to hug a bald woman in the front row who was holding a sign that said she’d just completed her final day of chemotherapy.
That incident reminded you of the moral weight that Pink is thought by many to carry thanks in part to her outspoken support of marriage equality and the #MeToo movement, among other progressive causes.
Here, she preceded “Raise Your Glass” — her rowdy tribute to “all my underdogs” — with an audio recording of a moving speech she gave at last year’s MTV Video Music Awards in which she described the need for people to “see more kinds of beauty.”
Yet that sense of social responsibility never burdened this performance in the way that sometimes happens at shows by U2 or Bruce Springsteen; Pink, who’s scheduled to play Staples Center on Thursday and the Forum on Friday, maintained an essential buoyancy for the two hours she was onstage.
Or not onstage, as was the case during that flying bit set to “So What.”
Even then, though, Pink somehow made you feel as if you were right up there next to her.
P!nk took Cirque Du Soleil to new heights with her Beautiful Trauma tour stop at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Thursday night, replete with funhouse comics projected on the screen and acrobatic moves that had concertgoers’ mouths drop.
A mix of family-friendly throwbacks from pre-show DJ KidCutUp set the mood for P!nk’s remixed vaudeville performance, created alongside Baz Halpin, producer and production designer of her The Truth About Love Tour – Live From Melbourne video documentary and Funhouse Tour: Live in Australia video. She wasn’t letting the beautiful trauma define her — despite the arena tour being titled after her seventh studio album of the same name — but rather her stage moniker: a playful color thought to be forgotten once you grew up, but P!nk’s music is as ageless as the color pink is childish.
Here are seven takeaways from the LA show that had fans remember “we’re all pink inside”:
P!nk Swings From the Chandelier During Her Opening Performance of “Get the Party Started”
The show began with an off-tune recorder playing the 20th Century Fox theme song by a man under two spotlights. The magenta curtains were elegantly poised as if concertgoers were attending a proper theatrical performance begging to be seen through opera glasses. But the curtains crashed down and the real spectacle began as her hit “Get the Party Started” roared from the speakers. Fans were welcomed to P!nk’s playhouse-meets-Cirque-du-Soleil fantasy, where metallic and sequined pink-clad acrobats flipped through the air and the singer herself swung from a chandelier while decked out in a black sequined jumpsuit, fulfilling Sia’s dreams and acting like Miley Cyrus’ predecessor of punk pop (queue “Wrecking Ball”). By swinging upside down, P!nk dynamically challenged a typical concert from “How can her vocal cords even handle this” to “Is she going to fall off?”
There Was an Inflatable Eminem Feature & Stop-Motion Animated Comedy Show for “Revenge Lyrics”
From her playhouse, spectators traveled to “Revenge Land,” an animated short prelude to P!nk’s “Revenge Lyrics” performance. Her voice could be heard over the Chicken Run-reminiscent characters running amok and being tortured with burning showers, asking, “Are you tired of your boyfriend?” Male characters entered the “unfun house” as she called it with a bleak spin of “It’s a Small World” to “It’s a Sad World” playing in the background as she temporarily flipped the Disneyland ride theme. Off-screen, real people dressed as the stop-motion comic characters and swung around the stage in agony. In P!nk’s revenge sermon, the ultimate man to pay the price was Eminem, the song’s featured act. While not physically present, a larger-than-life inflatable cartoon of Slim Shady appeared and waltzed onstage as he rapped his verse. P!nk then shot up from the stage and power-kicked the cartoon, deflating the physical statue and delivering our Saturday morning pastimes in real life.
She Brought Out Gwen Stefani & Performed No Doubt’s “Just a Girl” for a Throwback Thursday
The crowd had already been treated to comics from the funhouse, but P!nk’s “Funhouse” performance served a different slew of animations — from hamburgers growing eyes and ravenous mouths to multicolored, exploding alarm clocks to clownish kittens with faces that were anything but cute. But the loudest shrieks from the audience came when Gwen Stefani popped onstage to perform “Just a Girl” from her No Doubt days, sporting her signature platinum-blond ponytail with black tips. The ambience from the “Funhouse” portion of her set screamed rock concert, but there was no doubt — and even a portion of No Doubt — the eclectic pop P!nk is known for shimmered through the hardcore vibe.
P!nk and Her Dancer Flip Around Better Than The Greatest Showman Scene Between Zendaya & Zac Efron
While performing “Secrets” from her latest album, one of her backup dancers twirled around P!nk and eventually lifted her up with him, flipping the script on The Greatest Showman’s “Rewrite the Stars” scene when a trapeze artist (Zendaya) soared and flew through the air with the showman’s business partner (Zac Efron). Scratch that: She was the greatest show-woman — performing the daring stunt while scatting “Da da da da do do do,” like what she was doing was a “silly little game” as instructed by the end of the chorus.
The Concert Shows a Video Montage of P!nk’s Home Videos, Interviews, Music Videos, Marches & More
Making a statement is embedded in P!nk’s DNA, but her video montage of clips from her past and the country’s present, in lieu of women’s marches and the #MeToo movement, came to a humbling conclusion: “We’re all pink on the inside.” Her voice-over snippets discuss feminism, giving back and being human. “I need to know that my pain was helping your pain,” she said in the montage. It was a turning point in the show: P!nk at her most vulnerable state stepping up to the stage with unwavering vocals for slower songs to follow. We left the playhouse for her to just be herself, as the 38-year-old singer reminded the crowd that they’re all her — we’re fierce and our insides are the same color as each other’s even if our outsides aren’t.
P!nk Shares a Story About Her Daughter, Willow, Before Bringing Her Onstage for “Raise Your Glass”
P!NK remained authentic about her personal life when she shared an anecdote about her 6-year-old daughter Willow. “I’m the ugliest girl I know,” she recited to the crowd from their conversation. The impactful words popped up on the screen like a PowerPoint, which P!NK prepared for her daughter later about androgynous rock stars. Annie Lennox, Michael Jackson, Prince, Elton John and George Michael were just a few names the singer listed, which sent the audience in an uproar of praise. P!nk commandeered the celebration with her toast-happy anthem “Raise Your Glass,” as she saluted her daughter, whom she later brought onstage during the performance, wearing a red jumpsuit covering a sparkly jumpsuit underneath. It’s what’s underneath that matters anyway. Punk rock dancers stuck out their tongues and shimmied with their shoulders without a care, and P!nk raised herself too — quite literally. She was catapulted toward the ceiling, nearly ending the show where she started it, up in the skies dreaming and dancing.
She Swings Around the Whole Staples Center for her “So What” Finale
Being lifted upward wasn’t enough for the “Just Like Fire” singer. “I’m coming for you in the back!” she bellowed as her dancers seated her in a harness that would take her from the edge of the stage to the 300 level and all around the venue. There was nothing permanent or physical about the real ending of the concert. The ephemeral, fanciful swing showed that P!nk’s playhouse from the beginning of the set to the enchanted forest in the middle of the show to the haunted bedroom took fans around the many corners of her life, and we rode along for a few minutes with the mimicked sway of our phones following her fleeting silhouette.
In the history of traveling pop music outings, there’s probably never been a better first 10 seconds of any tour than the opening of Pink’s current show. After a small eternity in which the audience is left gazing at a reddish curtain, increasingly indented as unknowable pieces of staging are pushed into place, it suddenly drops and the crowd is immediately plunged into a “Get the Party Started” that appears to have already started a few hours earlier. A dozen bits of business are happening with the dancers, musicians and props, but at or hovering over the center of it all is Pink, hanging from a quadruple-scale chandelier that is already deep into pendulum mode.
The waste-no-time audaciousness of opening the show with this “joined already in progress” moment is kind of as if Cecil B. DeMille decided to dispense with preliminaries and start “The Ten Commandments” right as the parting of the Red Sea is happening, or the “Jaws” shark leaped out of the water in a jump cut right from the Universal logo. You had to suspect she was not getting the show’s climax out of the way before the opening chorus shifted to the first verse, but it was hard not to laugh out loud at the feeling that might be what was happening with this 0-to-120 turbo launch.
On Friday night at the Forum, the remaining two hours did not, in fact, register as an elongated anticlimax, with Pink’s ability to execute sequentially more impressive and physically challenging set pieces probably not coming as a surprise to anyone who’s watched two or more music awards shows this century. Friday’s show in Inglewood, following on the heels of other southern California arena dates in Anaheim, Ontario and across town at Staples Center, marked the closing night of the three-month, 38-city North American first leg of her “Beautiful Trauma” world tour. For any less severely athletic singer, the near-constant intermingling of dance and risk-baiting stuntwork might be a ticket to the trauma ward. But she makes “acrobat-diva” seem like the most natural career-day hyphenation in the world.
Cutting to the chase demands revealing what the real climax of the show actually is (this will be a spoiler only for those who plan on checking out the tour’s return to the states in March through May of next year, including a reprise visit to the Forum on April 19, 2019): That would be the penultimate number, “So What,” in which Pink turns herself into a human slingshot, zigzagging at slow and fast speeds through most of the airspace of the ticketed part of the arena, via a series of elastic contraptions that seem like they must be a life insurance salesman’s dream. I can say without too much fear of hyperbole that, in decades of concert-going and reviewing, Pink’s is the most “holy f—ing s—“ act of physicality I’ve ever seen as part of a pop show. That she almost certainly seems to be singing live during this and most of the other gyroscopic numbers was a cherry on top, in an age where most young divas cut to the pre-record the second the choreography kicks in.
Well, it’s more than a cherry. Pre-muscle mass, Pink’s vocal prowess was her original raison d’etre. And there are a few occasions in these couple of hours that she does shut off the gymnastics and sing — including the now-requisite semi-acoustic turn with some of her band members at center stage midway through the set, and again for the final encore number, “Glitter in the Air,” which feels like one of the few tunes where she’s not in the air at some point, on ropes or just being flipped over the backs of her dance squad. On these grounded occasions, you start to think: Wouldn’t it be nice if she could do at least a tour where she did nothing but show off her exquisite and powerful voice, foregoing the massive pageantry and really focusing exclusively on what’s at the heart of the music? But then she goes into another eye-popping showpiece, and you correct yourself: No. Let’s hope that never happens.
It’s worth noting, anyway, that Pink is touring behind one of her better recordings, also titled “Beautiful Trauma” (a little belatedly — those ropes and insurance take time to set up). And it wasn’t even a “video album,” so the opportunity to hear the material and experience it as more of an emotional experience than a Barnum & Cirque extravaganza is there… at home. She’s on a tier right now shared only by Taylor Swift and Beyoncé, the only solo superstars who are able to write or co-write bracingly autobiographical material and then turn it into the Greatest Show on Earth without seeming like they’re selling out the material’s original, personal impulses.
Pink is a little less concerned than Swift is on her current tour with trying to make each piece of the production fit the theme she’s singing about. Sometimes clever set design, like the melting lampposts in the opening numbers here, doesn’t need a lot of justification. A good pas de deux can fit a lot of love songs, of course. This show’s second-biggest corker, after the warp-speed solo elasticity of “So What,” is the mid-show “Secrets,” where Pink and one of her buffest male dancers take to ropes over the center ramp and do a visual duet that has them taking turns becoming a human platform to hold the other up… along with some more sensual interlocking. It’s the one time in the show where Pink did not seem to be wearing any kind of safety harness.
A couple of choices in the set don’t hold up to her best material. “Just Give Me a Reason,” her duet with Nate Ruess, is kind of looking for a reason to belong in the show — not least of all when Ruess appears on a video screen to recreate his part. Why do pop stars feel convinced that fans will balk if a celeb that contributed a featured vocal years ago isn’t represented on tape? The same problem seemed to afflict “Revenge,” her duet with Eminem from the latest album — at least until an amusingly caricaturized inflatable of the rapper that appeared to be 10 times Pink’s size was wheeled onto the ramp. She took to the ropes (naturally) to take some stabs at kicking the massive balloon’s head, though it perhaps didn’t go as planned on this particular night. “I think Marshall kicked my ass tonight,” she said afterward.
That was almost as rough as the language got, which may have been a surprise for anyone familiar only with the F-bomb-peppered explicit versions of her albums. “F—in’ Perfect” was rendered “You Are Perfect,” which loses a little in the G-rated translation. But Pink, who brought her own young daughter on stage with a giant lollipop at night’s end, is apparently okay with sacrificing a bit of her trademark directness for the chance to endow some of the mom-and-daughter couplings in the audience with empowerment messages. Without overselling the social conscience ingredient, these were present in a repeat of Pink’s pro-androgyny speech from last summer’s MTV Awards that covered for a costume-and-set change, and another awareness montage incorporating everything from her UNICEF ambassadorship to quick-flash call-outs for #MeToo, Black Lives Matter, Resist, nasty women and marriage-minded gay men.
These messages were probably too blink-and-you’ll-miss-’em to deeply aggravate whatever conservative fans might have been on hand, but they did serve to add context to the song that followed, “What About Us,” as moving an expression of political ennui in downtrodden times as we’ve had in pop music. It’s as brilliantly subtle as protest songs get, and for once her cast of otherwise jubilant dancers was charged with the mission of looking a little beaten down. The depressed part of the show didn’t last long, but even a short acknowledgement of how badly we need the celebration the rest of the show represents was flippin’ perfect.
Extra kudos to Pink for not only calling out every one of her musicians and dancers during the course of the show — only one reason why it ran well over curfew — but for including a credits roll after the encore that acknowledged the rest of the principals, too. How else would we know that the great Bob Mackie was responsible for additional costuming?
Pop star Pink, who is known for insane, over-the-top, high-flying acrobatic action in her performances, surprised everyone by stripping down her televised appearance at the 60th annual Grammy Awards earlier this year. Barefoot and donning a simple white, off-the-shoulder T-shirt and faded jeans, the 38-year-old entertainer reminded everyone that she didn’t need all of the extra flair as she let her vocals shine and soar with “Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken.”
Her latest tour, in support of her seventh studio album, “Beautiful Trauma,” features a mix of both the colorful, energetic and stunning delivery of songs we’ve come to expect of Pink, as well as several more intimate moments that made the arena spectacle suddenly feel like a small club gig.
She kicked off the first of five of her Beautiful Trauma World Tour stops in Southern California at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario on Wednesday night. Pink comes to Honda Center in Anaheim on Friday, May 25, the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego on Monday, May 28, Staples Center in Los Angeles on Thursday, May 31, and the Forum in Inglewood on Friday, June 1.
Opening with her hit “Get the Party Started,” Pink, her backing vocalists, band and incredible dance crew certainly started things with a bang, putting on an encore-worthy performance right out of the gate that included Pink dangling and doing backflips from an oversized chandelier. As the show transitioned into the tour and album title track, “Beautiful Trauma,” Pink had a little Gene Kelly in “Singin’ in the Rain” moment as she danced around big pink lampposts that were being wheeled around the stage.
She put her conveyor belt catwalk to good use during “Just Like a Pill.” The catwalk sat in the middle of the heart-shaped stage with two pools of fans in standing pits on either side that showered here with gifts – cards, flowers, stuffed animals – throughout the evening. She started to slow things down a bit with “Who Knew,” calming the production and letting her powerful voice take center stage as dancers performed individual interpretative dance numbers.
For the songs “Revenge,” in which Pink collaborates with Eminem, and “Just Give Me a Reason,” that features Nate Ruess of the band Fun on record, she incorporated their vocals in clever ways. Rather than just piping in their parts for “Revenge,” Pink brought out a huge blow up Eminem that walked to the front of the stage, dwarfing it as moved along to Eminem’s vocals and Pink did some acrobatics around it, even giving it a playful kick to the face. Ruess appeared on an old TV screen on stage in a dream-like bedroom setup. Eventually Pink would climb on that bed and float over the crowd.
The song “Funhouse,” on which she collaborated with No Doubt’s Tony Kanal, was mixed with a little bit of No Doubt’s “Just a Girl.” Kanal didn’t come out in Ontario, but it wouldn’t be too shocking if he joined her on bass at the tour stops in Los Angeles or Orange County. She also did a cover of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” before doing one of her biggest acrobatic stunts of the evening with a male dancer for the sultry, “Secrets.” The on-stage transitions happened so quickly and flawlessly. As she was flying high with “Secrets,” the crew set up a Grimms’ fairy tales-themed stage for “Try.”
She brought a few members of the band and a couple backup singers to the end of the stage for “Barbies” and offered a gospel and bluegrass-infused version of “I Am Here.” She dedicated “Raise Your Glass” to her daughter, Willow, and took a giant leap over the audience, dangling and tumbling from two ropes by just her wrists. “Blow Me (One Last Kiss)” was a huge dance moment and there wasn’t much of a break before the encore which started with “So What.”
The two-hour set flew by and there was so much crammed into it. Pink goes above and beyond what any other popular performer does during a live set. She jumps without flinching and exhibits so much control with her body, making all of the difficult moves look effortless while still maintaining her breath so she can actually sing live.
During “So What” she launched herself high into the arena, doing air cartwheels around the upper decks as fans cheered along and reached out to touch her hands. There was a very brief break after that and Pink was back, wearing a white T-shirt and jeans, similar to her Grammy outfit. She stood in the spotlight and ended the evening with her ballad, “Glitter in the Air.”