in performance: pink

Pink, during an earthbound moment Thursday night at Rupp Arena. Herald Leader photo by Alex Slitz.

Oh, that Pink. She thinks she is sooooo above everyone else.

Well, for an impressive portion of a carnival-worthy performance Thursday evening at Rupp Arena, she was – about 30 feet above. No sooner did a set of massive curtains part (take a wild guess what color they were) than the pop juggernaut was seen swinging on a makeshift chandelier, crawling up, down and upside down with the agility of a spider as an eight member band and a very physically fortified dance squad kicked the program off with, fittingly, “Get the Party Started.”

What Pink executed from that point on was a spectacle that was almost continually in motion. Set pieces, including a pack of warped streetlights that looked like were hoisted from a Salvador Dali painting, were tugged about the set during “Beautiful Trauma,” a four poster bed again set the singer airborne for the monster hit ballad “Just Give Me a Reason” and a creepy excursion through the nocturnal outdoors during “Try” became the visual blend of “Into the Woods” crossed with Jean Cocteau’s “La Belle et la Bette.” Yes, it was that strange and stunning.

All of this, though, only provided a taste of how the production aspect of the concert played out. In many ways, Pink herself was the show’s keenest special effect by serving as ringmaster for this very engaging pop circus, exhibiting a Herculean level of physical stamina in the process. She also, when the show decelerated enough from the visuals to let you focus squarely on the music, emerged as a vocalist with equally tireless bravado.

In fact, it wasn’t until late in the evening that Pink took enough of a breather to actually converse with the audience of 17,000. That fell in the middle of an extended run of tunes from her 2017 album, “Beautiful Trauma” – in particular, “For Now” and “Barbies,” works she co-penned with show opener Julia Michaels. The later sported a stripped-down quartet version of her band backing her on the lip of a ramp that circled through the arena floor.

There was also the matter of the persona Pink presented onstage. At work here was a mother of two who will turn 40 later this year, so there was no mistaking the very real empowerment she was representing. Sure, there was a sexual element to some of the show, as in yet another aerial sequence that sent the singer and a male dancer into a series of gymnastic embraces in mid-air during “Secrets.” But that was just one element of many. Just as commanding was a film clip sandwiched between “Just Like Fire” and “What About Us” that spoke about gender and social equality in very matter-of-fact terms.

But there was humor, too. “Revenge” was prefaced by another film, a claymation clip for a nightmarish theme park called “Revenge Land” that was great fun. Then as the song played out, a towering puppet version of Eminem (Pink’s collaborator on the recorded version of the song) journeyed down the stage runway. That sent the singer, where else, back into the air so she could punch the Kong-sized rapper right in the kisser.

Wrap all this up and what you had, aside from an immensely entertaining production, was a very distinctive slant on the conventional female pop star. With a touch of age and worldliness working very much in her favor, Pink was far removed from the typical, video-savvy dance-pop pin-up. Instead, she came off more as the cool mom – the kind that let you stay up late and maybe told a saucy joke but never took her eyes off you.



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