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She lost the Grammy for best pop vocal album to RCA Records labelmate Kelly Clarkson last week, but if an awards show should ever give out a trophy for best use of acrobatics in a pop concert, Pink surely would come out on top. Or at least so it seemed Saturday night at Staples Center, the third stop on her The Truth About Love tour.
Using acrobatics isn’t something new for Pink. She did on her 2009 Funhouse tour, and showcased it on TV with a breathtaking performance of “Glitter in the Air” at the 2010 Grammys. Yet on this trek, Pink has perfected the presentation with a show that was so entertaining, it just might be the biggest spectacle in pop, especially now that Lady Gaga is sidelined with a bum hip.
After an intro from the MC that set the stage with the singer as a contestant on “The Truth About Love” game show, Pink and company emerged with the star suspended high above the stage by three muscular male dancers, singing “Raise Your Glass” as she was being slingshotted back into the air with a bungee-like contraption. Aside from the acrobatics, there was an elaborate stage with five video-screens directly above it (including a massive heart-shaped screen in the middle) plus one more on each side, staircases and light posts, a crew of dancers, a five-piece band, two backup singers, numerous costume changes and a master of ceremonies who wasn’t particularly entertaining or funny but gave Pink a breather between her more strenuous numbers.
On the chance that such high performance would alienate her fans, Pink dedicated “Leave Me Alone” to the terrible dancers in the crowd, while a “dork-o-meter” was displayed on the video-screens. To change things up, she began her 2002 hit “Just a Pill” on the floor, showing off her bare midriff and killer abs that rival those of fellow pop star and recent mom Gwen Stefani. During that song, she was literally tossed around the stage by a male dancer. There was so much action onstage during the first six songs, it was a welcome relief when she broke into a cover of Chris Isaak‘s ’90s hit “Wicked Game” at the mic alone at center stage. But it didn’t last long, as she soon was molested by three male dancers throughout the rest of the song.
Such a physically demanding performance is bound to raise questions about whether Pink is singing live, which she appeared to be doing, assisted by her backing vocalists and perhaps some recorded tracks. Whatever the case, she eventually let the theatrics take a backseat to her voice. She sang “Just Give Me A Reason,” her duet with Nate Ruess, fairly free of distractions, save for the fun. frontman chiming in with his parts through the magic of video. Later, she got even more intimate with “Family Portrait,” her heart-wrenching tale of growing up in a broken home, accompanied only by pianist Jason Chapman as her family photos flashed on the video-screen. She took a similar approach to “Who Knew,” swapping out the piano for the accompaniment of Justin Derrico‘s acoustic guitar. These moments proved that she still is one of pop’s most powerful vocalists.
When Pink cranked things up again with her aggressive sexual table-turner “Slut Like You” and recent hit “Blow Me (One Last Kiss),” it was beginning to seem like just another pop show with song-and-dance routines, but she pulled out all the stops with the encore of “So What.” Dressed in a gold bodysuit and strapped into a harness, she flew over the crowd several times, taking brief stops on perches set up on each side of the area. The stunt was so mind-blowing that most of the crowd attempted to capture it on their camera phones, while others watched in amazement. That was a more than adequate showstopper, but Pink opted to end the set with a gentler comedown: “Glitter in the Air.” As in her famed Grammy performance, Pink again was in the air, but for a calmer and more beautiful performance that had her spinning gracefully as she sang.
Swedish rockers The Hives opened the show with a thoroughly entertaining but short set. The quintet, fronted by Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist, sported tuxes and tails but no extra theatrics. Instead, they relied on their tight-fisted garage rock, Almqvist’s entertaining stage patter, Daltrey-esque microphone swinging and guitarist Nicholaus Arson‘s Townshend-like leaps. Back in 2002, the band seemed primed for success, along with The White Stripes, with the single “Hate to Say I Told You So.” On Saturday night, they once again proved they should be stars.
Raise Your Glass
Walk of Shame
Just Like a Pill
U + Ur Hand
Leave Me Alone (I’m Lonely)
Just Give Me A Reason
Are We All We Are
How Come You’re Not Here
Most Girls/There You Go/You Make Me Sick
Slut Like You
Blow Me (One Last Kiss)
Glitter in the Air