Pink Pours Out ‘Beautiful Trauma’ on Birmingham’s Legacy Arena Stage

By J. Matthew Cobb

Pink is almost impossible to lock down. She doesn’t like boundaries. And as a solo artist, she’s proven that over her almost two decades of music. For critics who have tried to pin the flying acrobatic pop star to a specific genre or category, she constantly pulls off the rouge switcheroo by constantly setting out to redefine herself. Her Beautiful Trauma world tour stop in Birmingham (Mar 14), dropped on the second North American leg, is a great, classy description of the reinvent. Last time she appeared here during the Truth About Love world tour, her first time in the Magic City, Pink – honing in on her obsession for acrobatics – whirled throughout the Legacy Arena like a super-long yo-yo. She did some of that on this round but suspends much of it in exchange for a more complete and versatile presentation. This time, she’s supported with a more choreography, ever-changing stage designs and a wider backscreen for video presentations and 3D backdrops. In essence, less circus; more theatre.

After hearing “Issues” singer-songwriter Julia Michaels as her opening act, a short DJ set by Kid Cutup and the rumbling echoes of Whitesnake’s ‘80’s rock-pop anthem “Here I Go Again,” P!nk gives us her “I’m Coming Out” anthem. Down goes a mountain-high pink curtain from the ceiling and the party gets started with…you guessed it…“Get the Party Started.” The 39-year old singer bounces up and down from a dangling warped jellyfish-styled chandelier from bungee ropes, giving new life to Sia’s lyrical fantasy. All the while, she’s actually singing, mostly upside down or in a dizzying vortex due to dancers ferociously spinning her around. Each time the chorus is heard, she’s allowing her soulful backing vocalists to handle the words while she fires off a set of gospel-baked ad-libs. As the song inches to its climax, a dance routine breaks out on an instrumental jam before closing with firework outbursts from behind.

It’s a powerful, high-adrenaline intro, followed up with a handful of singalong bops. The set slides comfortably into her leading title cut, “Beautiful Trauma” and then rolls into “Just Like a Pill,” leaving Pink with the opportunity to grace the hands of delightful fans in the mosh pit while sliding on a conveyor belt and walking around the front of the illuminated heart-shaped stage. Afterwards, Pink greets the audience, sets up microphone at the nearest middle point of the stage for “Who Knew” while being surrounded by a contemporary dance routine from two of her dancers.

By mid-set, Pink is pacing and belting notes from the stage more, allowing the stage designers and graceful dancers to do their handiwork. The raging flamethrower pyrotechnics that burst upwards on “Just Like Fire” is worth noting. She takes flight when needed, especially when she has to jump kick a giant balloon appearing as a caricature of Eminem for “Revenge” or when a king’s size bed is lifted into mid-air for “Give Me a Reason” while .fun lead singer Nate Ruess is being beamed unto the hanging monitors. But Pink honestly doesn’t need all the stunts, props and spectacle to pull off the good vibes that comes with her music. She’s got a strong catalog full of radio hits and treasured deep cuts. She also has that voice, a fiery lyric mezzo-soprano that produces a quality grit perfect for R&B and just enough to nail down some kickass uptempo pop-rock and punk. On this night, it was exercised mightily on the disco rock of “Funhouse,” which came packaged with a few lines of No Doubt’s “Just a Girl” and even more so on her Nirvana cover of “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

By the time, Pink gets around to the emotional gem “Try” and “What About Us,” she has proven herself to be a formidable top-tier act, one full of raw emotion and a deep connection with her devout fanbase. That’s probably why she’s since dialed back some of the profanity in her live shows. “F**kin’ Perfect” is now sung in the radio-friendly formation. The words “bitch” and “shit” are uttered, but not as gradually. And it’s all because her audiences has grown in stature and multiplied in range. Thanks to her glowing influence plus philanthropic and social justice endeavors (also marked in the video presentation of “Women Are Strong”), she’s touching the hearts and ears of kids and teens. Even with bridling the potty mouth and scaling back a lot of Cirque du Soleil-esque adventure (possibly due to extensive touring and nearing 40), P!nk is still a whopper of an entertainer. And although not as jaw-dropping as her Truth About Love tour, the Baz Halpin-produced ‘Beautiful Trauma’ is still one heck of a tour, one that left fans exhilarated, well pleased and hungry for more. You got that rapturous feeling, one full of goosebumps and even a few emotional tear sheds, after experiencing her one-two-three punch of “Blow Me (One Last Kiss),” “Raise Your Glass” and the bad-ass “So What,” where she touches virtually every corner of the arena and twists in circles with the use of a trusty TAIT-designed flying rig.  After waving goodbye, she returns to the stage for a brief encore, the beautiful ballad “Glitter in the Air.” Yes, we wanted more, maybe a bigger climax, but after a 20-song setlist stretching 110 minutes, P!nk finally had enough, blew us one last kiss and looked upward and onward to Bossier City, Louisiana for her next stop.

The second leg of the US portion of P!nk’s Beautiful Trauma World Tour wraps up on May 22 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. For More information and tour dates click here.

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