Pink never whispers, her voice a hand grenade with pin pulled.
There’s a reason she swaps an exclamation point for an “i” when spelling her name.
Nor does she miss many opportunities to punctuate a thought with a juicy curse word or two, her vocabulary as blue as the corpse of gentility left dead in her wake.
And yet, here she was doing both.
The bawdy pop star and semi-new mother (she has a 20-month-old daughter), was attempting to introduce a song, “Slut Like You,” a raucous, shout-along anthem about using men the way a kid does a playground jungle gym, something to be climbed upon and enjoyed for a bit then it’s on to the next distraction.
Her intro required the use of an f-bomb, but Pink only haltingly said it, and did so in a seldom-employed hushed tone.
“I can’t even say the word,” she giggled afterward. “I’m such a mom.”
But then she got back to business, storming across the stage as if she was trying to stomp holes in it.
“Looks like the joke’s on you-hoo,” she chirped on the song’s chorus, addressing her unwitting boy toy. “So go home and cry boo-hoo.”
Pink’s motherhood hasn’t changed her so much as underscored rivaling sensibilities that have always been at the heart of her career: responsibility vs. revelry, self-assertiveness vs. vulnerability, commitment vs. conquest.
These warring impulses exist in most everyone to varying degrees, and Pink’s eagerness to give such unabashed voice to them is what has made her so relatable to so many, and thereby capable of packing a venue as sizable as the Mandalay Bay Events Center, which she sold out on Friday.
She possesses none of the cool detachment of many of her pop peers, fellow chart-hogging femme fatales like Rihanna and Britney Spears, who accentuate their elevated status by keeping everyone at arm’s length, like royalty.
Pink would no doubt cringe at being likened to either, but there are similarities between them all, from the choreographed dance moves to the wielding of their sexuality like battle-axes.
But there are plenty of differences as well, and this is where Pink has chiseled her niche in the pop monolith.
Perhaps Pink’s most refreshing, and distinct, quality is her willingness to make light of herself, to deflate the aura of the pop goddess with the iron abs that she simultaneously works diligently to craft.
On “Walk of Shame,” she mocked herself for getting drunk and waking up the following morning next to a scrub; during “Leave Me Alone (I’m Lonely)” she engaged in some deliberately dorky dance moves and encouraged the crowd to do the same (then she flubbed the song’s opening, momentarily forgetting the lyrics); a comedic intro video showed her enacting a bar scene where she tossed back shots of whiskey and mangled her words.
The message here is clear: Stars can be screw-ups, from time to time, and the reverse can also be true.
In this context, inebriation can serve as inspiration, so who’s up for another round of shots with a self-help chaser?
“The whole world’s scared, so I swallow the fear,” Pink sang during “Perfect,” which began with an acoustic lilt before exploding into a seismic rocker. “The only thing I should be drinking is an ice-cold beer.”
Pink’s enviable physique belies statements like this.
After all, how many brews can one indulge in and still have a midriff that looks as if a cannonball would bounce off it?
But Pink likes to have it both ways, the self-professed party girl who’s ultimately a serious, studious performer.
Her ambitions manifested themselves in the production values of this concert, an elaborate presentation with Cirque du Soleil flourishes and a vague narrative revolving around a game show, “The Truth About Love” (which is also the title of Pink’s latest album and this tour), complete with cornball host.
At various points during the night, Pink rocketed to the back of the arena on a harness while doing somersaults, dangled spread eagle from a trapeze, performed while gripping the outside of an iron sphere being spun by a trio of shirtless dudes and sang upside down while suspended from the rafters.
“I love when it’s all too much,” Pink beamed in song during a show-opening “Raise Your Glass,” giving voice to the evening’s operating principle.
“What part of a party don’t you understand?” she asked later in the song. “Wish you’d just freak out.”
The next two hours would be spent leading by example.
Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at
email@example.com or 702-383-0476.
Where: Mandalay Bay Events Center
Attendance: 9,400 (sold out)