Reports of Pink’s acrobatics have not been greatly exaggerated.
Over the course of the pop star’s two-hour set in Madison Square Garden last night, she took flight on no less than three occasions — spinning, dangling, and twirling. Once, she crawled in, out, and over a giant metal sphere as it hovered in the air. I think it was meant to visualize her inner turmoil, or maybe her arm muscles.
Regardless, the scale of the setting suited her, with the audience as her echo chamber. It was so large in fact, with so much constant bigness, that everything small or smaller was swallowed. What remained had to boom.
The “Truth Above Love” tour is a lot of things (including game show and circus) but it is one thing above all: a showcase for the power-pop anthem, which Pink pulled and pushed on with a showboating snarl. (Look carefully and you’d have seen a high-kick or two in the choreography.)
The night opened with “Raise Your Glass” and essentially didn’t stop. Even the ballad-y ballads got the arena treatment — a good thing, because some of them are, like, not very good. (Example: “Just Give Me A Reason” with guest-via-video-screen Nate Ruess, or, a good song strangled by a bad one.) Nothing was under-produced, with a crew and set design that included, at minimum, a dozen screens, a dozen dancers, and a dozen singers and musicians.
While performing “How Come You’re Not Here,” off her latest album, Pink was backed by the moving images of a videogame nightmare come to life in which she was pixelized and chased by spiked missiles. Elsewhere, the muscular backs of her dancers offered as much spectacle as the high-wires that strung across the ceiling.
Do you have to be a Pink fan to enjoy the tour? It’s a ridiculous question: you’ll be blasted by almost two hours of music and end up a Pink fan, regardless. The wall-to-wall setlist had its interludes, in the form of spotlit one-offs (a guitar solo; an appearance by a man-in-the-moon straight out of a Méliès short; philosophy from our host of the game show-within-a-tour) and a late-in-the-night turn toward the acoustic. But the audience filled in around even the sound of a lone instrument. This was not the kind of crowd for stillness.
And why should it be? At 33, Alecia “Pink” Moore has become the grand dame for sloppy, self-actualizing feminism. She’s a dork! She’s a slut! (Reformed!) And she is, it must be said, the fount for some truly great music, if the definition of greatness has room for surround-sound choruses and sticky, bounce-back lyrics. (The songs spanned her decade-plus career, including a dance-heavy medley — ”There You Go,” “You Make Me Sick” — covering her early 2000s R&B moment; more personal mid-career confessionals like “Family Portrait” and “Just Like a Pill”; a cover of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game”; and the requisite NSFW anthems “F—in’ Perfect,” “So What,” and “U + Ur Hand.”)
The night ended not at all as it began, with the show’s game show motif, and attendant faux-host, wrapped up and sent off before a second encore of “Glitter in the Air.”
Of course, Pink used it as a chance to fly — and, for the first time in the night, dip herself into the water. The audience stood cheering up to the credits, as if they hadn’t quite gotten over not being her loudest backing vocal. And what about Pink? She’s somewhere, I’m sure, still soaring.