Nearly 20 years after the release of her debut album Can’t Take Me Home, P!nk is still swinging from the top of arenas. Literally.
Making a grand entrance as the pre-show curtain dropped for the first of her two Boston shows at TD Garden (last night, April 9; and continuing tonight, April 10), P!nk was latched to a Dr.-Seuss-lookin’ candelabra that spit sparks, rocking that sucker like a tire swing to “Get The Party Started.”
It’s these similar stunts and an unabashed attitude that’s secured the Philadelphia singer’s spot in the ever-expanding chronicles of women rockstars.
Does P!nk play the guitar onstage? Nope. Does she volley herself at swarms of groupies? Nah, although she does graciously accept fan art if you’re in the right place of the catwalk at the right time. Can she fill two back-to-back arena shows in the same city? Yes, but that’s not relevant in our circumstances.
What’s relevant here is P!nk doing one-handed pushups on a metal beam while suspended in midair by metal cords and proclaiming “I’m a still a rockstar” on “So What” on a Monday night at the Garden. P!nk wills it, so mote it be.
Pop music changes with the bubblegum whims of every season, but keeping up with the runaway train of musical relevancy has never been an issue for P!nk because she’s never been interested in its destination from the start. Before Lady Gaga festooned meat to her rump and Lorde made her Exorcist faces when performing “Royals,” P!nk made her own brouhaha with a cropped haircut and lyrics that flip-flopped between swear-y swagger and suicidal serenades.
Post-Missundaztood, her 2001 breakthrough album, her bravado grew to singles about telling bar creeps to go home and fuck themselves and a very public profession of her separation with husband Carey Hart (albeit a short-lived one, but intense nonetheless). In 2018, the closest thing to P!nk losing her edge would be performing the censored version of “Fuckin’ Perfect.” In fact, following the release of her last album Beautiful Trauma, she’s delved into the art of mapping out the human experience and all its grueling moments.
The word “trauma” may be new to the P!nk catalogue, but the theme isn’t; Strain has long weaved its way through her entire career, from the bitterness of “Just Like A Pill,” to the torment of breakup track “Funhouse,” not to mention that 2006’s “I’m Not Dead” speaks for itself. Whether or not trauma can be beautiful is up for the far corners of the Internet to dispute, but in the P!nk universe, it can at least be coated in glitter and delicately entwined with another dancer doing aerials, spinning together at a frightening pace.
In fact, the only common denominator throughout her whole show was her frequent Cirque du Soleil moves, which were always confidently choreographed, never predicable, and certainly never something that wore out their wonder, especially when taking place a few feet over your own head.
In the breadth of half an hour, things went from crudely tackling a inflatable ex-boyfriend four times P!nk’s size on “Revenge,” to medieval masquerading on “Try,” later followed by the transition of reciting a mini-sermon on perceptions of beauty and her daughter (almost identical to her 2017 VMAs speech) to crotch-spiking her tracksuit on “Raise Your Glass.”
Even when she wasn’t strapped into her bungee cords, P!nk was leaning off a four-post bed suspended over the catwalk and delivering her musical clincher in Nate Ruess duo “Just Give Me A Reason,” her triumphant belt of “we’ll come clean” that anyone who had a radio in 2013 could mimic perfectly from hearing it replayed so many times.
Despite leaning on some stalwart go-tos like “Blow Me (One Last Kiss),” “Who Knew,” and “What About Us,” a handful of notable omissions included “Sober,” “U + Ur Hand” and “Don’t Let Me Get Me,” most likely nixed in favor of Beautiful Trauma tracks and an on-point cover of “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
In a final effort to connect with all 17,000-plus fans, P!nk suited up in her harness once again, this time letting the cords whip her all the way to the balcony to pause and wave in between cartwheels. Skirting the edges of the loges with a smile plastered on her face, one thing’s for sure; P!nk wasn’t dead in 2006, and she’s sure as hell not dead now.
Follow Victoria Wasylak on Twitter @VickiWasylak.