music friday: 1986
20 faves #8: van morrison, astral weeks

pink, the beautiful trauma tour

When Beautiful Trauma came out, I offered the opinion that I wouldn't really know how much I liked the new songs until I'd heard them in concert. Her albums are always top-heavy with great material, but I don't think she's ever had a perfect album. The title track hit me from the start, and a few others gradually inched their way into my consciousness, but much of the latter half seemed a bit like filler. It didn't help that the big hit, "What About Us", struck me as heartfelt but far from great.

Last night, she sang 7 songs from Beautiful Trauma, and besides the title track, which I already loved, a few that were improved in the live setting, like "Revenge", which features Eminem ... it's OK on record, but the live version was also clever, as an enormous inflated doll that looked like Eminem came on stage to do his part, with Pink flying in the air and punching him out. "I Am Here", the gospel-sounding track, was excellent, thanks in part to backup singers Stacy Campbell and Jenny Douglas. And "What About Us" works perfectly before a crowd of people who sing along with the chorus of their anthem.

She always does covers ... this time, she attached No Doubt's "Just a Girl" to "Funhouse", which worked well enough, and performed a straightforward version of "Smells Like Teen Spirit". Perhaps not as adventurous as The Funhouse Tour, where she took on The Divinyls, Led Zeppelin, Queen, and Gnarls Barkley, but this year's song fit in perfectly.

There's not much left to say about the aerial acrobatics. It's harder now to be surprised by the stuff she does, although we took our daughter for her first Pink show and it was fun watching everything through her eyes. Tellingly, one of the show's highlights was its final song, "Glitter in the Air", which in its earlier live performances had been so wonderful that the version at the Grammys is imprinted on the minds of everyone who saw it. This time, she just sang it, and it was lovely.

As for the band, it must matter that the same people have been in her band for ... I don't know, at least a decade. They aren't "A Band", they are "The Band" ... they don't go on tour as themselves when Pink isn't around. They are working musicians who play with many other artists. If you think about singers you've watched for a long time, I don't think you'd find many examples where the backup group is mostly unchanged. But these folks have back Pink on tour long enough that they sound just like a "real" band.

Special mention to the opening act, KidCutUp, a DJ who did about 40 minutes and had the Arena dancing and bopping ... odd, but the DJ was one of the best opening acts I've seen.

My second Pink concert was at The Fillmore, and was the last time I saw her just play, without a Show. Later, she brought on dancers, and eventually her aerial skills, but that show at The Fillmore established for me that Pink can do great shows, even if all she does is sing. Each year, that show at The Fillmore seems farther away. She retains her remarkable rapport with her audience. And we're going again next April, which is about the right space between shows.

Here she is in Seattle, a week or so before we saw her:




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