The house lights dim, the opening bars of “Raise Your Glass” kick in, the curtain rises, revealing a deliriously garish stage highlighted by a suspended apparatus with three men hanging upside down from it. “Don’t be fancy, just be dancey, why so serious?” sings a voice as the apparatus quickly rises to the lighting rig, the music builds to an extended crescendo as the two elastic straps stretch tighter. Fireworks pop, the chorus kicks in, and up flies P!nk, 30 feet in the air, flipping, twirling, posing with astonishing dexterity and precision while singing. It was an entrance that won’t soon be forgotten.
It has been 15 years since the explosion of American pop starlets which spawned Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and so many more. The fact that Alecia Moore has not only outlasted them all but has done so while retaining a sense of integrity those peers have never been able to claim is an admirable feat. Incredibly, in this day and age of Gaga, Swift, Katy, Bey, and Rihanna, it was Moore, or the stylized P!nk as she’s known worldwide, who was the biggest selling female artist of 2013, netting 1.83 million in total sales. Her single “Just Give Me a Reason” topped the charts, while her The Truth About Love tour, in support of the 2012 album of the same name was among the highest grossing tours of 2013. Kicking off the final leg of a year-long, 140 plus date run this month to make up for a series of cancelled performances, it’s easy to view these last shows as a victory lap for P!nk. And as she wowed a capacity crowd of roughly 13,000 fans at Credit Union Centre in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, the sense of joy was palpable from the gregarious, hard-working singer.
Inspired by her memorable performance at the 2010 Grammy Awards and drawing from her skill as an aspiring gymnast as a child, P!nk’s ‘The Truth About Love’ show is built around several set pieces that involve graceful, Cirque du Soleil style acrobatics. Each aerial display is more jaw-dropping than the last. The song “Sober” featured several dancers spinning beautifully on a twirling, glittering ball. “Try” has P!nk suspended by her feet, singing with impressive grace as she spins upside down. Her vocals are performed live, not recorded and played against lip syncing pantomime, are all the more impressive for the imperfections left in.
For all the gimmicks, let it be known that when it came to simple stage performances, P!nk and her ace backing band did a phenomenal job. Led by lead guitarist Justin Derrico and anchored by veteran drummer Mark Schulman, the five-piece band added some welcome punch to the set-list. Highlighting seven tracks from the most recent album the band still managed to dip into each one of P!nk’s past albums. Older material like “Just Like a Pill”, “Trouble”, “U + Ur Hand”, and a medley of “Most Girls”, “There You Go”, and “You Make Me Sick” showcased P!nk’s wide range as a singer and performer. Yet it was the more recent songs that received the most applause, particularly the saucier fare like “Walk of Shame”, “Are We All We Are”, “Slut Like You”, and “Blow Me (One Last Kiss)”. Whether engaging slick dance routines, poking fun at her own musical limitations, joking with the band, or interacting with fans, P!ink was a veritable dynamo, full of energy, charisma, and sass.
Her best stunt was saved for last. During the closing number “So What” P!nk was quickly propelled by an intricate zip line from the stage to the top of the arena, tumbling, flipping, soaring back and forth above the audience, dipping down to high-five fans on the floor and sailing over the heads of those in the side seats. “I’m a rock star, I got my rock moves,” she sang as she flew about, pulling off arena feats David Lee Roth or Paul Stanley could only dream of. It was an astonishing finale to a pop concert that succeeded on every level.
Still, the best image from that show wasn’t so much the elaborate set pieces, but a little hiccup early on. During “Just Like a Pill” P!nk had a slight wardrobe malfunction, her pants coming loose. Instead of fretting, she just carried on, shamelessly shuffling across the stage with her microphone between her knees as she tied her drawstring. Professional, unflappable, able to laugh at herself, and not giving a lick about the odd imperfection, P!nk’s performance at the CUC was a small, sweet taste of her universal appeal.