- 19 Jun 19
I had an inkling early on that P!nk was going to put on a hell of a show. A couple of hours before she took on the sold-out RDS Arena, her team got in contact with Hot Press HQ to ask if we could put the review online first thing in the morning - noting that they were eager to read it. If that doesn't exude confidence then I don't know what does.
But P!nk has reasons to be confident. 19 years after the release of her debut album, Can't Take Me Home, she's still at the absolute top of her game. Her recently released eighth LP, Hurts 2B Human, was an audacious reassertion of her place at the top of pop's highest echelons. It was also a wide-ranging affair, with her unique pop style getting coupled with everything from swing to country to EDM and beyond to great effect.
The gig gets started with the lady in question appearing in the midst of the crowd from the middle of the stadium, just as the band and her dancers get set up on stage. She opens with 'Get This Party Started' (what else?) and dances her way through hysterical fans towards her dance troupe. When she finally hops up on stage, she merges seamlessly into an always-shifting dance routine, which plays out against an Alice in Wonderful-styled backdrop - one minute she's being wheeled across on a twisted pink lamppost, the next she's lounging on a spiral staircase.
The crowd are already going full throttle at this point. The only thing louder than the band is my 64 year old father, who's singing out every word (he's a since-day-one P!nk fan, who's finally, thankfully, getting the chance to see her for the first time).
Next up is 'Beautiful Trauma', from her 2017 album of the same name. With its blasting hooks and clear, defiant message, it's the sort of song which P!nk can pull out of her hat with apparent ease, to remind you of how exactly she became such a star.
Following this huge musical moment comes the first of nearly a dozen costume changes that mark the progress of the night. P!nk rushes off-stage and returns donned in a dark, black and pink coat, to invite us all the way back to 2001's 'Just Like A Pill'.
After she finishes the song, she gets rid of all the pomp and ceremony and kneels down to just talk to members of the crowd - one fella gets a happy birthday for turning 40, another gets praise for her P!nk-inspired t-shirt. This personal touch is a prelude to 'Who Knew', a bracing pop song which can still hit right to the bone.
There's an altogether different tone for the next phase of the show, as cartoon animations depict the brutal, theme-park nightmare that is 'Revenge Land' (essentially a place to torture you exes in the most savage way possible!). This paves the way for a rambunctious 'Funhouse', a song which - as you've probably already guessed - deals with break-ups, split-ups, fuck-ups, asnd getting away from someone you love (you can Google the song for context if you don't know the story). As she wraps it up, P!nk throws a nod to her pop peer Gwen Stefani by singing a few bars if No Doubt's 'Just A Girl'.
The swing-infused 'Hustle' follows, but it's immediately overshadowed by the breath-taking acrobatics of 'I've Got Some Things To Say'. Joined by her male dancing counterpart, they launch into an aerial routine which is anxiety-inducing in how high up they both get, but beautiful in it's flawless execution, and in the unspoken chemistry between the two performers.
This is a moment where you reflect on how P!nk's stardom and professionalism come through on such a real, tangible level; we're in the presence of an all-singing, all-dancing, all 20-feet-aerial-swinging pop star.
The next phase of the show features a fairytale theme for the emotive 'Try'. Straight after this, a vintage TV is rolled out with Fun singer Nate Ruess on screen, so that P!nk can cleverly duet with him for 'Just Give Me A Reason' (it really would be a shame to leave this off the setlist, considering it's one of her most affecting songs).
The pop star then takes a moment to pay tribute to some recent music which she's been enjoying. She delivers a cover of 'Rivers', a song written by young British musician Bishop Briggs: a loud, roaring, biting rock song, you can see why P!nk might have an affinity with it.
The fairytale theme then becomes clearer for her next song, 'Just Like Fire' - from the OST of Alice Through The Looking Glass - while the dozen pyrotechnics lining the stage transform it into a visual feast.
A montage of early P!nk interviews comes next, where the singer consistently reasserts her "I don't give a shit, I'll do it anyway" attitude. This bleeds into footage of anti-Trump marches, pro-choice marches, footage of the new wave of democrats in Congress, cuts of women who've pushed through the #metoo narrative against fierce backlash. This moving montage leads us, naturally, into 'What About Us', a protest pop song which doubles as a dance anthem without sounding at all gimmicky.
Another touching moment comes later when she invites American musician Wrabel - with whom she dueted on her most recent album - to perform their track '90 Days'. It's a more downtempo part of the show, which continues as P!nk brings a stool to the stage's walkway and, with just her guitar man alongside her, performs recent song 'Walk Me Home'. The rest of her nine-piece band then join her on the walkway for 'I Am Here', a gospel-inspired number which soars in it's finale.
Darkness has descended by now, and we're slap bang into the home straight. P!nk makes the next phase about rousing numbers. She does her best to instil confidence into every self-conscious person in the audience with 'Perfect', pays tribute to all kinds of beauty with 'Raise Your Glass', and consoles you in your struggles with 'Blow Me One Last Kiss'.
There's one more track from her new album, the nostaglia-dipped 'Can We Pretend', before she gets to the finale. And what an ending it is. Harnessed to an aerial belt connected to four ropes which extend out across half the stadium, the singer ascends 30 feet in the air, blasting out 'So What' as she makes her gravity-defying journey around the stadium. When she makes it back to the stage - having been hurtled 360 degrees in every direction for three and a half minutes - she looks like she's barely broken a sweat. She says thank you, goodnight, and struts off casually, as a burst of red confetti sees her out.
She was confident about this night going into it. She had every reason to be. Jaw-dropping entertainment.