Daring physical performance and a discography packed with instantly recognizable party songs – what more can you ask from a pop gig?
There are only a small handful of artists who could sell out Wembley Stadium 20 years into their career. This weekend, Pink did it two nights in a row.
To put the star and her myriad achievements into perspective, it’s over 10 years since I last saw her in concert – the Funhouse Tour in Manchester – and I can’t remember any of it.
Well, save for one thing: being absolutely blown away by her aerial acrobatic skills.
Over the ensuing decade, my respect for her never wavered… Even if I’ve struggled to connect with the music like I did Missundaztood’s singles in 2001-02.
I must also admit, I tired of the circus skills schtick. Especially after she scaled the side of building for her 2017 AMAs performance of Beautiful Trauma. What could top that?
Well, consider my hat well and truly eaten. Seeing such spectacle in person, and making a concerted effort to remember it this time, was breathtaking.
Watching the 39-year-old be catapulted around Wembley Stadium during the climactic So What – her reliably powerful voice on point throughout, even while spinning mid-air – was possibly the most impressive thing I’ve ever seen at a concert. I can’t imagine any of her peers having the bottle to do it.
Her entrance was equally dramatic: lowered to the stage hanging from a chandelier for compulsory show opener and all-round mission statement Get This Party Started.
The energy didn’t let up throughout, largely thanks to an extensive discography packed with instantly recognisable party songs. Many, of course, are arena-ready anthems, from Raise Your Glass to Blow Me (One Last Kiss).
In fact, my only criticism of the whole gig is the omission of certain tracks. For example, those of us who have been with her since her debut Can’t Take Me Home will know that album contained some strong songs. (Only one, There You Go, made it onto her 2010 greatest hits package).
It would be good to see them get an airing next time, but you do imagine an exhaustive two-hour spectacle stretching into three-hour territory. And while last night’s Cyndi Lauper Time after Time cover was totally superfluous, Pink still found time to revisit many past hits. (Which was more than can be said for February’s Brits medley…)
Indeed, the Beautiful Trauma World Tour show is packed with thrilling moments. There was a standout dance number for the searching Try, with Pink’s partner moving with equal precision and conviction and, evermore elaborate group choreography for What About Us.
Another touching moment was a spoken word interlude in which the 39-year-old discusses feminism and her relationship with her daughter. (‘Do you see me growing my hair? ‘No mama’ ‘Do you see my changing my body?’ ‘No mama’).
Best of all, it was simply a privilege to hear an artist belt out songs that hold so much meaning for me, and transport me back to different stages of my life, from the unparallelled Just Like A Pill and barnstorming 2017 album track I Am Here. An utterly brilliant night.
Every musician has certain metrics where they excel. Some musicians are traditional album sales artists. Some are singles artists, snatching number ones on radio with ease, and in 2019, more and more are streaming artists. But only a select upper echelon are touring artists, selling out stadiums and arenas across the globe regardless of an era’s commercial impact or sound. Last week, at night two of a sold out run at Madison Square Garden in New York, pop-singer P!nk proved she is the embodiment of the modern touring artist.
She raddled through highlights of her extensive catalogue of hits like “Raise Your Glass,” “Perfect,” and “Get the Party Started,” along with cuts from her most recent albums Hurts 2B Human and Beautiful Trauma.
She moved through the high energy set with impeccable vocal and physical stamina, something audiences worldwide have come to expect of the entertainer. Vocally, she was as powerful if not stronger than on recording and proved to be a physical marvel, flying above the crowd and serving a full acrobatic show within a concert space.
The set design was eclectic, ranging from twisted fairytale to lavish mansion, and took every opportunity to let P!nk fly (swinging chandeliers, soaring beds, you name it!). The stage design also utilized projections, which added context to the evening. During one interlude, a montage of early interviews and anecdotes were inter-cut with instances of her humanitarian work, putting on display the fact that P!nk has been preaching self-love forever, even before it was cool.
The night ending with a triumphant rendition of signature smash, “So What,” which included some of the most daring acrobatic work of the evening, followed by a double encore of the quieter fan favorite, “Glitter in the Air.”
While P!nk has been courting fans for nearly 20 years, if you haven’t been to a show yet you’re stanning P!nk the wrong way. The best way to understand all that is P!nk is to be sitting at the arena, but who are we kidding, you’ll be standing at the arena.
On a chilly night at the Hollywood Palladium, hundreds of people stood waiting for P!nk to take the stage, proving that the artist still has plenty of draw after two decades of performing. P!nk began her set with the incredibly appropriate “Get the Party Started,” to which the crowd enthusiastically danced and sang along to. This was followed by another song off of her 2001 album, M!ssundaztood, and the crowd reacted just as excitedly to “Just Like a Pill.” These tracks set the tone for the rest of the show, which consisted of several of her older hit songs. She continued on to play songs from her albums Try This and I’m Not Dead, beginning with “Trouble” and before moving on to “Who Knew,” she commented about not having done a show where she wasn’t hanging upside down in while.
Before moving on to her hit single from her album Funhouse, she spoke to the audience about having recently lost someone and shared kind words about hanging in there. The mood was lightened when she forgot the lyrics but charmingly recovered and transitioned into a cover of Gwen Stefani’s “Just a Girl,” followed by introductions and solos for each band member. The visuals on the massive screen behind them were impressive and accurately matched each song. A huge contrast in visuals came with her next song, “Try,” from her album The Truth About Love, and they went away completely and left a single spotlight on P!nk as she sang “For Now” from her latest album. She was much more active, joining in with her backup dancers in perfect sync as she sang “What About Us,” another hit from Beautiful Trauma.
“Barbies” and “I Am Here” followed, and despite a few incidents of inebriated audience members spontaneously leaving the crowd, P!nk successfully held the attention with her impressive vocals. After making sure that an audience member who had a few too many was taken care of, P!nk sang “F**kin’ Perfect” and a cover of Bishop Briggs’ “River” after a quick change into a plaid shirt. Her supposed last two songs were “Blow Me (One Last Kiss)” and “Raise Your Glass,” but the crowd was not fooled and everyone stayed in place waiting for the inevitable encore. The older, and likely nostalgic, crowd was pleasantly surprised when she covered “What’s Up?” by 4 Non Blondes. Her final song was “So What,” a very energetic end to the set that the band impressively extended out as the crowds poured out of the venue.
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.