May 19, 2019
Twenty years into her [very successful] career, it's easy to forget just how refreshing P!nk was when she hit the music scene. In a landscape populated with carefully coiffed pop divas like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, her distinctive melding of raw vocal power and unabashed feminism was a needed kick in the ass.
She's a parent now, which has increasingly informed her music and live shows. And while it isn’t entirely accurate to say P!nk has mellowed all that much since her debut, she’s somewhat less of an enfant terrible now that she has enfants of her own.
P!nk entered the Toyota Center perched atop a giant, mutant chandelier (to the strains of "Get the Party Started," appropriately enough). It would be just one of several times the former Alecia Moore rode cables (and occasionally her own dancers) throughout the evening, giving an appreciative Houston crowd two hours of spectacle that was equal parts carnival extravaganza, confessional, and rock show.
Because a P!nk concert is far from the norm. She's never going to be someone who sits behind a mike stand, occasionally strumming as guitar (at least not until old age dictates). There were a handful of subdued interludes, to be sure ("Barbies," the closing "Glitter in the Air"), but more often than not she was either airborne — spinning across the entire arena during the climactic "So What" and dueling a giant, inflatable Emimen for "Revenge" — or bounding across the stage to "Raise Your Glass" or a fine rendition of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit."
And if — like me — you were shepherding a pre-teen daughter to her first "grown up" concert experience, you're probably going to have to temper expectations for her next one. I've been to hundreds of shows in my life, and P!nk's was truly something else. The easiest comparison is to a production like Cirque Du Soleil, but those slackers don't even sing.
Last night was part of the latest leg of her Beautiful Trauma tour, and if it sounds familiar, that's because she was actually in town less than a year ago. It's testimony to her stamina and love of performing that the tour is going to slide right through the release of Hurts 2B Human next month, and she probably won’t miss a beat.
We got a taste of the new album when the singer performed its lead single, "Walk Me Home," during the concert's fourth act. It's a more traditional sounding (almost Mumford-ish) tune, one you could almost hear playing over the end credits of a movie. That's not a bad thing.
And yes; the set is broken up into "acts" (six of them), the better to facilitate wardrobe changes (and possibly oxygen infusion). Each began with a video interlude and featured songs devoted to a particular theme, each of which were pretty on-brand for the outspoken artist.
One of the aforementioned videos, for the "Women Are Strong" segment, leaned heavily into P!nk's feminism, invoking #MeToo and reiterating her support for gay marriage. The next detailed a discussion she had with her daughter, who expressed concern that she looked too much like a boy (also included was her mother's admirable response). Houston crowds occasionally exhibit an inability (or unwillingness) to reconcile performances with the politics of the artist. To their credit, support in the arena was full-throated and sincere.
P!nk’s been criticized in the past for being confrontational – even combative – but those qualities, combined with her obvious compassion and unwillingness to take herself too seriously, are ones I'd be proud for my kids to share. It seems unfair to say two of the finest Houston concerts in the past year have been given by the same artist on the same tour, but we've gotta give it up (and raise our glass) to P!nk, the current champ.
What About The Opener?
Julia Michaels has written enough hits both for other singers (Selena Gomez's "Goofd For You" and Hailee Steinfeld's "Love Myself," among many others) and herself ("Issues") that she probably won't be an opening act much longer.
Personal Bias: I was already almost middle-aged when P!nk hit the scene, so she never really resonated with me. She made a convert last night.
The Crowd: Enthusiastic. And I was gratified (relieved?) that quite a few people brought kids younger than mine.
Overheard In The Crowd: "If they don't have my size, I'll order it online."
Notebook Dump Comment To My Daughter, Who Didn't Understand Why I Knew The Words To "Teen Spirit: "It's by a band called Nirvana. You can look them up on YouTube tomorrow."
Get the Party Started
Just Like a Pill
Funhouse / Just a Girl
Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nirvana cover)
Just Give Me a Reason
Walk Me Home
Just Like Fire
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Glitter in the Air