Why wait for the encore to engage in aerial acrobatics like pop star Pink did when she performed last month at the Minneapolis Armory during Super Bowl festivities?
On Monday at the sold-out Xcel Energy Center in front of 15,000 people, Pink played her trump card on the very first song, climbing on a floating chandelier like it was a jungle gym at the playground.
What a way to get the party started on — what else? — “Get the Party Started,” her 2001 hit.
Then Pink played trump cards five more times during her 110-minute performance. She danced a lovely pas de deux with a male dancer while hanging on Cirque du Soleil-like cords. She spun in the air solo on one of those cords. Attached to a wire, she flew in the air like Peter Pan and punched a giant inflatable replica of Eminem during their duet “Revenge.”
And then there was the tour de force during, of course, the encore of “So What.” Wearing a shimmering silvery catsuit and harness, Pink soared over the entire audience, some 50 feet in the air, somersaulting and singing. At the same time.
P!nk — as she likes to stylize her name — knows how to put the exclamation point in a show. Wow!
But it wasn’t just the daring and ambitious physicality that made Pink’s one of the best pop shows on the road in this or any other recent year. At 38, she has become a better — and more ambitious — dancer since her 2013-2014 tour. More graceful, more agile, more engaged with her fellow dancers. And she lets them become interpretive dancers when they are not doing unison choreography.
Nearly every one of her 21 songs had a different stage set, and the dancers and Pink changed outfits often. But nothing was too fussy, inscrutable or weird. It was all about entertaining — from her mashup of her own “Funhouse” (about remembering when a failing relationship was a good time) and No Doubt’s “Just a Girl” to a roaring cover of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” to Pink’s own fist-pumping anthem for freaks and underdogs (her words), “Raise Your Glass.”
Indeed, Pink comes with a message, in conversation and in song. She’s a feisty, outspoken, blue-collar mother of two from Philadelphia, married to a professional motocross driver. A perfect pop star for the Trump era, she’s a brash, unburnished, aggressive advocate for self-esteem, equal rights and self-analysis.
In her songs, she sings loud and clear about her vulnerabilities and insecurities but manages to turn things into empowering moments. In concert, she did the same, telling a story about her 6-year-old daughter complaining she was the ugliest girl in her school, too boyish looking. Mom straightened her out by showing photos of David Bowie, Prince, Janis Joplin and other rock stars. And, of course, there’s Mom, who is androgynous and selling out arenas, as she put it.
While all the aerial work is meticulously planned, Pink was very in the moment. She chatted with fans, signed autographs, cracked jokes, gave a shout-out to her Aunt Joanne and, in her usual self-deprecating way, admitted she was sick again in the Twin Cities.
“I was sick last time I was here, which was dumb,” she announced early in the night. “Guess what? I’m sick again. I’m just gonna ignore it. If it gets to the point where I sound awful, just sing louder than I do.”
Guess what? She sounded awfully good. In concert, she is probably pop’s most believable singer. So real, so authentic. You believe she’s experienced everything she’s singing about.
Once, during her “Just Like Fire,” her voice sounded weary. But she rebounded on the ensuing “What About Us,” her recent hit that sounds like it’s about a relationship gone awry but is really about the state of the nation.
“I need to know my pain is helping your pain,” she said in an interview broadcast before the song. “I’m not afraid to be a strong woman. I feel like I have a lot of fight left in me.”
And a lot of trump cards.