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pink in san jose

Better get a few words down before I go to bed.

This was one of the best shows I have ever attended, and I’ve been going to shows for more than 40 years (and had seen Pink twice before, as well). There are reasons why I might overrate it … basically, I’ve never been to a show like this, so I was perhaps more impressed by the spectacle than I would have been if I was used to this type of concert. Think pop star with hard-rock roots, then toss in Cirque du Soleil, and you’ve got something of the idea.

Even though the show was as expected if you’d read about earlier stops on the tour, seeing it live was a lot better than watching on YouTube. The spectacle had a point … it wasn’t like a Bruce Springsteen concert where a calliope pops up to start the show and then disappears for the rest of the night. This tour supports the Funhouse album, so the concert included clowns and scary inflatable demons and trapeze work and aerial ballets. Meanwhile, Pink just rocked the house … she’s always been a confident performer, but the bigger stage really gave her room to strut. Yes, seeing her at the Fillmore was more intimate and in some ways better. But she pulled off the extravaganza like she was born to do it.

She played a lot of Funhouse, and a handful of her earlier hits. The crowd loved them all. She did her acoustic segment … she sang while spinning in the air (a separated shoulder prevented her from doing the kind of trapeze work we saw at the VMAs, but otherwise she was fine) … she changed costumes … she farted around … she screwed up a song, allowing her to remind us she wasn’t lipsyncing … she was good with the rockers, good with the ballads, good with the pop stuff.

And the covers! “I Touch Myself” worked well visually … she lay on a tricked out couch with holes underneath, a guy hid under the couch, and four hands roved over her body as she sang. The arrangement wasn’t much, though. She fared much better with Led Zeppelin’s “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You,” fighting Robert Plant to a draw. Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” was an appropriate end to the main set. And most amazing of all was “Bohemian Rhapsody.” I wouldn’t have thought it possible to bring this off, but they did, and very well. They did all the parts … this matters, since apparently even Queen wasn’t able to do all the parts in a live setting. The crowd went bonkers … they knew all the words and sang along throughout.

And it’s clear that Pink is nothing if not brazen. Not many singers would pit themselves against the memories of Robert Plant AND Freddie Mercury, but Pink killed, just as she did in past tours in covering Janis Joplin.

And then there was the audience. When I saw Pink seven years ago, there were a lot of men my age, taking their daughters to the concert. In 2009, those daughters are grown up, and don’t need Daddy along any more. So there weren’t many Dads. There weren’t a lot of men, period … at least one men’s room was transformed into a women’s room for the night. A rough guess of the makeup of the crowd would be 90% female, with a sizable lesbian contingent. The cheering was very high-pitched, another sign that the gender split was pretty extreme. It was also very loud … almost Beatlemania-esque at times.

Bottom line? I don’t know that I’ve ever had more fun at a concert in my life.

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