Sunday, March 17, 2013

It's a bird. It's a plane. It's Pink flying high in CLT

If CBS were to relaunch those “Circus of the Stars” TV specials from the `70s and `80s, pop singer Pink could probably tackle every role from lion tamer to acrobat to stunt cyclist with ease. Her concert at Time Warner Cable Arena Saturday left the crowd wondering if there’s anything this woman can’t do - and do well.

She met the high expectations created by her last “Funhouse” tour from the opening of “Raise Your Glass” - upside down while three shirtless trapeze artists held her feet as she twisted and twirled against a heart-shaped tattoo-meets-carnival-inspired backdrop.
She charged through “Walk of Shame” and “Just Like a Pill.” The fun “U + Ur Hand” was choreographed like an `80s video with her dancers - all dressed differently - backing her up like a grooving street gang that had come together spontaneously.

Even when the show was at its most strategically rehearsed - with the singer flying above the crowd - the performance never seemed contrived. Her banter was natural and open. No she didn’t sing every word live, but she also didn’t pretend to. Two animated and entertaining backup singers filled in the gaps. And when Pink does sing live, boy can she sing - and sometimes in the most awkward of positions.
After an S&M-themed segue, she appeared in a teeny weeny black bikini to spin over the crowd again before performing a contortionist yoga-dance duet of sorts with a male dancer that she lifted with her legs as he rolled over her. Throughout the night she sported skintight leotards, body suits and midriff bearing tops that showed off post-baby abs that could make D’Angelo circa 2000 envious.  
As amazing as she is a performer, Pink’s act translates because she is very real whether talking about her family in Fayetteville or “bad dancing” during “Leave Me Alone (I’m Lonely).” She’s not afraid to have fun and poke fun at herself. The loud, black and white parachute-hipped pants and fluorescent high tops she wore during the final pre-encore segment were an amusing nod to her hip-hop past. She got winded recreating those hip-hop dance moves from her early days during a medley of “Most Girls,” “There You Go,” and “You Make Me Sick.” 

That throwback ended up being one of the most entertaining non high-flying portions of the show. She proved she could be a Janet Jackson-type performer if she wanted to, but there’s a lot of rocker in Pink amid the punky attitude and electric guitars. She’s like Pat Benatar, Joan Jett and Jackson rolled into one.
While she did address her early work, she only touched on the album that made her a huge pop star (2001’s “Missundaztood”) with “Pill” and a piano and vocal rendition of “Family Portrait.” No “Get the Party Started.” She didn’t really need it though. She’s had plenty of hits since and songs like “Wicked Game” by another powerful pompadoured performer (Chris Isaak) and the acoustic “Who Knew” showed off her nearly unparalleled pipes.

It looked as if “Sober” would be the theatrical highlight of the show as she and her dancers crawled in and out of and swung from a spinning oval cage suspended over the stage. It looked like a Faberge egg but was dubbed the “ring of death” by the guys behind me.

The stage turned into a vaudeville strip joint (or maybe the fairy club from “True Blood”) for “Slut Like You” before the finale of “Blow Me (One Last Kiss).”

The only thing a bit off was Rubix the comedic host that cruised the crowd following City and Colour's opening set, introduced the show, and appeared during costume changes to entertain. He was kind of creepy, but his Dr. Seuss quote about love nicely tied things together at the end. That’s when we noticed the wires running the length of the arena over our heads. As the playful riffs of “So What” rang out, Pink - strapped into said wires with a ring around her waste - appeared for what may be the most impressive encore the arena’s ever seen. She soared above the crowd, flipping end over end from the stage to the back balcony, stopping to sing a verse on narrow pillars before sailing off again (thanks to Wilson for posting the above video). If you didn’t have a big stupid grin on your face as Pink gleefully flew over your head, then you very well may be dead inside.
She could have easily ended there, but returned to reprise that stunning aerial silks performance of "Glitter in the Air" flanked by three aerialists. She may be married to a motocross athlete and motorcycle racer, but again and again she proved - with a delighted smile on her face - that there’s more than one daredevil in that family. And throughout her show - as she sings in “So What” - she looks like she’s “having more fun” than anyone in the building.