A cynic might wander into a Pink show, take in all the Broadway-caliber sensory overload on display and assume the mononymous pop star is a one-trick pony.
After all, she’s been soaring through the air for 15 years – since her 2004 Try This world tour – and continues to deploy the stunt with abandon, hurling herself through space while belting iron-clad hit singles.
Surely, all the aerial shenanigans have grown tiresome, right?
A realist might wander into a Pink show and see otherwise. To be sure, pop stars are cottage industries unto themselves in the 21st century, and Pink is no different (the breathtakingly expensive T-shirts at the merch stand – $45 and $50?! – bear this out).
That realism will, over the course of the night, give way to a fervent belief in Pink and her powers. There’s an admirable altruism and a fierce desire to leave the world better than she found it, whether it’s at the confetti-strewn end of a concert, or the end of her award-bedecked career, surging beneath even the bawdiest singalongs.
A quick stroll through the “Reverb Action Village,” with its volunteers canvassing for UNICEF, Planned Parenthood and No Kid Hungry confirms as much, as does her succinct summation of her art: “I need to know my pain is helping your pain,” she said during a video clip.
Sunday night at American Airlines Center, the singer-songwriter known to her parents as Alecia Moore returned for her third North Texas stop on her Beautiful Trauma world tour (she played two sold-out nights at the venue last May in support of the 2017 LP). On Sunday, the room was plenty packed, jammed full of fans ranging in age from kindergarten to retirement, a vast swath of demography all intent on one thing: having the time of their lives.
Pink was only too happy to oblige, exploding onto the stage with “Get This Party Started,” suspended from a warped-looking chandelier, as her eight-piece band and 10 dancers arrayed themselves on the enormous stage below her. It was a giddy adrenaline spike, watching the 39-year-old pop star swing to and fro, absorbing the raucous cheers and setting the tempo for the 110-minute set to come.
By this phase of her career, Pink has pacing down to a science, weaving in plenty of amusing interstitial videos, copious costume changes and bits of fan service along the lip of her sizable, heart-shaped stage runway which reached deep into the crowd. (She’s also reaching the family-friendly/role model era, where her sharper edges are sanded down a smidge: Pink didn’t really lean into the chorus of “Fuckin’ Perfect,” preferring to pull away from the mic when the F-bomb came around.)
Still, the briskly paced set flitted between the boisterous (Beautiful Trauma’s title track, “Just Like a Pill,” “Who Knew,” “So What,” or the main set-closing “Blow Me (One Last Kiss)”) and the bruised (“Try,” “Just Give Me a Reason,” “For Now” and “Revenge”), while also finding space to work in a couple of covers (No Doubt’s “Just a Girl,” interpolated with her own “Funhouse,” and Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”) as well as her latest single, “Walk Me Home,” from her upcoming eighth studio album, Hurts 2B Human, due out next month.
And while Pink didn’t shy away from deploying plenty of familiar special effects — her eye-popping video screen stretching the width of the stage; an inflatable Eminem puppet; gouts of flame behind the band; dense smoke and flashing lights — the most breathtaking spectacle was, of course, the sight of the peroxided pop star slinging herself back and forth, suspended dozens of feet above the arena floor.
It’s a familiar sight, but no less arresting because of it. Concern about the durability of her diaphragm was felt more than once, as she sang the smoldering “Secrets,” while effectively hanging off the feet of her aerialist partner, or as she soared skyward during the climax of “Just Give Me a Reason.” Time and again, Pink made the extraordinary seem as easy as breathing.
Yet, the embrace of uplift makes total sense upon further reflection. Pink is aggressively irreverent, sure, but she’s just as militant about making sure tomorrow is better than today for a whole host of marginalized and minimized members of society.
By lifting herself up — in a literal and metaphorical sense — so that more may hear what she has to say, which reached its politically charged apex during a brief video before the soaring anthem “What About Us,” Pink is deftly converting cynics to believers, one sold-out arena spectacle at a time.