pink #8

It seems a bit unfair to say that in 2023, a Pink concert offers no surprises. If you've never seen her before, every one of her concerts is surprising. This being my 8th time, though (I'm getting old, I lost count, I told people it was my 7th), I'm not surprised at her live excellence or with her remarkable high-flying acrobatics. It's been a long time since I saw her at the Fillmore in 2006, just before she added the Cirque du Soleil spectacle. It's good to remember that she delivers even without the trapeze work, and in fact, many of the highlights now are the more "grounded" songs.

This was our first time seeing her since the release of Trustfall, which guaranteed some new-to-us songs in the concert. There were five from Trustfall, including the title track (which featured perhaps the most amazing gymnastics of the night, provided in this case by dancers interacting with trampolines to great effect) and "Turbulence", where the air-work was more exquisite than physical and ended with Pink and another dancer moving beautifully together in the air. There were the usual covers ... not usual as in "she does them every time", but usual as in "she always includes some interesting ones". This time she did Dylan-channeled-through-Adele with "Make You Feel My Love", to which she accompanied herself on piano; "Me and Bobby McGee" (she has often done material connected to Janis Joplin); and Sade's "No Ordinary Love". It goes without saying at this point that her band is tight and impressive. I have long attributed this in part to the consistency with which she gathers her supporting act ... they've been with her so long they share a connection that wouldn't be the same with a more random selection of musicians. By my count, at least five of them have been around forever, including Justin Derrico on guitar, Eva Gardner on bass, backup singer Stacy Campbell, keyboardist Jason Chapman, and jill-of-all-trades Adriana Balic.

The inevitable "So What" with Pink flying around the arena, saying hello to fans all over the damn place, remains a thrill no matter how many times you've seen it. It's still amazing that she does this in her act ... she's 44 years old now but still apparently fearless. I'd say her thighs were a wonder of nature, except she works hard to keep them strong. And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that she is perfect in her interactions with the crowd ... the setlists might be mostly the same from night to night, but her side comments and the times when she signs something for a fan, or accepts candy and the like from them, inject a welcomed human touch.

Grouplove was the opening act ... they're an alt-rock band that has been around for at least a dozen years ... singer Hannah Hooper is in her early 40s, I imagine the same could be said for most of the band, they've got a seasoned act that was well-received. Even better was DJ KidCutUp ... we've seen him with Pink before, he has a great sense of what works with the crowd, he had most of the 18,000 people in the audience up and dancing.

Pink 10-15-23

music friday: george shearing, rockpile, pink

George Shearing, Concord, 70s. I guess I revisit this one every once in a while. I think this is the third time I've written about, mostly just cut-and-pasting what I wrote before. The two most important items: I shook his hand, and he was featured in a scene from On the Road:

And Shearing began to rock; a smile broke over his ecstatic face; he began to rock in the piano seat, back and forth, slowly at first, then the beat went up, and he began rocking fast, his left foot jumped with every beat, his neck began to rock crookedly, he brought his face down to the keys, he pushed his hair back, his combed hair dissolved, he began to sweat. The music picked up. The bass-player hunched over and socked it in, faster and faster, it seemed faster and faster, that’s all. Shearing began to play his chords; they rolled out of his piano in great rich showers; you’d think the man wouldn’t have time to line them up. They rolled and rolled like the sea. Folks yelled for him to “Go”. Dean was sweating, the sweat poured down his collar. “There he is! That’s him! Old God! Old God Shearing! Yes! Yes! Yes!” And Shearing was conscious of the madman behind him, he could hear every one of Dean’s gasps and imprecations, he could sense it though he couldn’t see. “That’s right!” Dean said. “Yes!” Shearing smiled; he rocked. Shearing rose from the piano, dripping with sweat; these were his great 1949 days before he became cool and commercial. When he was gone Dean pointed to the empty piano seat. ‘God's empty chair,’ he said.”

Rockpile, Oakland?, 8-12-79. They opened for Blondie, and due respect to the headliners, but Rockpile blew them off the stage. They only recorded one album as Rockpile ... a live album from the same period was released a few decades later ... but in effect, they had several albums released as solo discs, as Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe. To the point, Edmunds once released "Heart of the City", a Nick Lowe track, simply overdubbing his own vocal atop Lowe's version (which Edmunds had played on). They were a fine band. Other members were Billy Bremmer on guitar and Terry Williams on drums.

Pink, Warfield, Fillmore, San Jose, Oakland, 2002, 2006, 2009, 2013, 2018, 2019. Not much to add about Pink ... seen her six times, all since this blog began so I've written about her for almost 20 years. She's one of the few music artists to get her own category on the blog, so if you want to take a trip down memory lane, go here.

pink: all i know so far (michael gracey, 2021)

Music documentary that resembles Don't Look Back. A mostly backstage look at a Pink tour that in theory illuminates the star in useful ways. In truth, All I Know So Far is too fond of its subject. We get an inspirational look at a different kind of nuclear family: Pink, husband Carey, and the kids Willow and Jameson. The kids are adorable, Carey is an amazingly patient dad, and Pink clearly loves the heck out of her kids. She explains why it's rare for female artists to tour once they become mothers, and we see her solution: bring the fam with her on tour.

As with similar documentaries, there is too little music for my taste. For most of the running time, we get snippets of songs at best. Which makes sense ... it's not a movie about her music as much as it is a movie about the family. We finally get a couple of nearly completely songs at the end, but I wanted more. Because of this, I don't think All I Know So Far would interest non-fans. Hardcore fans want to see everything about Pink, but the rest of the world probably gets the point after about five minutes.

We see the oldest child, Willow, becoming something of a budding performer herself. Earlier this year, she and Pink released a single, "Cover Me in Sunshine", that was well-received. And this past weekend, as part of the 2021 Billboard Music Awards where she was honored with the Icon Award, Pink performed a brief set of her hits, beginning with "Sunshine", featuring Willow joining Mom in some of Pink's acrobatics:

Here is the trailer:


OK, I know it's not Friday, but I've got Pink on my mind, so I thought I'd give her a little blog post. It is her birthday tomorrow, after all (she'll be 41).

Pink is a legendary live performer, known mostly for her in-the-air acrobatics, which are impressive but c'mon, she can sing, too. I first saw her in 2002, and in 2006 I saw her at the Fillmore (capacity 1,273), where she fit right in, even singing Janis Joplin's "Mercedes Benz". Here's a video of her from a 2006 concert:

I've never seen her in a small club since, although we've seen her five times in those years. I think it was the 2009 Funhouse Tour where she started with the acrobatics, and she wowed them at the 2009 MTV Awards with her high-flying "Sober". The next year, it was the Grammys, where she gave them "Glitter in the Air". Trust me, she couldn't have done this at the Fillmore (ignore the title of the video):

Nowadays, her signature live performance at each show is "So What".

music friday: pink, julia michaels, billie eilish tracks my Spotify listening, and a couple of days ago, they gave me my April listening report. Some of it was obvious ... I listened to a lot of Pink, who we saw in concert in the middle of the month. My most played track was "Walk Me Home" from her new album, Hurts 2B Human, and a new video of that song, featuring the Sink the Pink collective, has been released:

Under a set of "discovery" tables, I found that my personal new discovery was Julia Michaels, which has another Pink connection, as she was the opening act at the recent concert. Here is the Michaels track I played the most in April, which happens to also be the song she opened with at the concert (and which is coincidentally called "Pink"):

Finally, there is the "Mainstream-o-meter", which compares your top artist of the month against the overall top artist. I got 53%, whatever that means, largely because I played a lot of Billie Eilish. I suppose I should be proud that at 65, I'm still listening to new artists like Michaels and Eilish, but the truth is, I had no idea how popular they already are ... "new to me" doesn't necessarily mean "new to everyone". Here is Eilish with "bad guy" ... I think she looks like a 17-year-old Aubrey Plaza in this video:

Bonus: the tables say Kris Rodgers & The Dirty Gems were my most obscure artist of the month.

pink #6

This was our second time seeing Pink on her Beautiful Trauma tour, with the two shows separated by 11 months. Which is about right ... her shows are locked into the spectacle, so she can't really change things around much from show to show. There were only two changes to the setlist, with songs from her soon-to-be-released new album replacing "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and one of her old tunes. One particular highlight this time came from the people who sat directly in front of us: a woman and her daughter, who will be 8 at the end of the week. Mom said they'd been to see Taylor Swift and Beyoncé, and the squirt really enjoyed going to shows. They made quite a team, dancing happily. I told Mom that I first saw Pink "-9 years" before the daughter was born. The kid brought her doll with her, which was darling as could be. She tuckered out at the end, but kudos to both Mom and Kid for their exuberance.

I'm going to quote a bit from my post on last year's show, because it's still relevant, and because it raises something I want to reiterate:

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 backed Pink on tour long enough that they sound just like a "real" band.

I stand by those words. I did a little research. In almost every case, the band has been touring with her at least since the 2009 Funhouse tour. Just to name the ones I am sure of, there are the vocalists, Jenny Douglas and Stacy Campbell ... Douglas goes back to the I'm Not Dead tour of 2006-7. There's the rhythm section, Mark Schulman on drums and Eva Gardner on bass. Jessy Greene takes care of violin, viola, and vocals. Adriana Balic, who goes way back but missed a tour after she had a kid, on keyboards, guitar, vocals. Justin Derrico, the hot-shit geetar player. I don't mean to leave anyone out, but a couple have been around a bit less than the rest. There are also the dancers, who for the most part are more anonymous to me but many of whom have also been on multiple tours with Pink.

Reading Brian Hiatt's fine new book, Bruce Springsteen: The Stories Behind the Songs, I realized a truth that wasn't really a surprise, that since Tunnel of Love in the late-70s, Bruce has only rarely gone into the studio with the full E Street Band. That's how they made The River, but that's no longer how he makes albums. And, of course, Bruce has done tours without that band. But they are closely associated with each other ... the E Street Band has a recognizable identity, we think of them as being tied to Bruce. Many of them have solo careers, Max Weinberg spent many years as a late-night band leader, Steve Van Zandt was a regular on The Sopranos. But when the whole gang tours, it's Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band.

I'm not sure about other solo artists, but I feel like their tour bands change from year to year. Yet here is Pink, with a group so consistent that they could almost be billed a la the E Streeters. They are musicians for hire, sure ... Eva Gardner has a new album out, a couple of these folks are on shows like The Voice, and in the time-honored tradition of backup singers, Stacy and Jenny are always working with someone. Drummer Schulman even has a side-career as a motivational speaker. But it's been a long time since we've seen much in the way of changes in Pink's band. My wife saw her for the first time in 2009, and to her, the band has always been pretty much the same. The first two shows I saw, going back to 2002, had different musicians, but those were a long time ago.

Truthfully, for all they add to the concerts, Pink's band aren't as essential to the show as the E Street Band is to Bruce shows. But they keep coming back, Pink keeps asking them back, and they all seem to be having great time. It's fun to see, over the years.

I should offer another snippet from last year, since it was true once again last night. "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."

Finally, Julia Michaels did a set. She is known for writing songs for top pop stars. Her first single, "Issues", went triple-platinum. She was energetic, although my wife felt her band tended to overwhelm Michaels' offerings.

Here is a photo my wife took of "Revenge", the song that features Eminem both on vocals and, in concert, as a giant balloon. If you follow "Eminem's" line of vision, you'll see Pink floating in the air underneath a bunch of lights, just before she flies over to the balloon and punches it out.

Eminem vs. pink

music friday: 2018

I only went to one concert this year, Pink (we'll go one more time on this tour, next April), so I'll give her the last Music Friday of the year, even though the album in question came out in 2017.

The title track from her most recent album:

Covering "White Rabbit":

And just because:


music friday: 2006

Gnarls Barkley, "Crazy". Grammy winner. Pazz & Jop winner. Best song of the year in Rolling Stone.

Amy Winehouse, "Rehab". Three-time Grammy winner. Pazz & Jop winner. She said she wouldn't go to rehab. How's that work out?

Hot Chip, "Over and Over". I'm getting old, Exhibit A: I've never heard of these guys.

Ghostface Killah, "Shakey Dog". OK, I know this one. Christgau gave the album an A+.

The Hold Steady, "Stuck Between Stations". First line namechecks Sal Paradise.

Pink, "U + Ur Hand". I'm not here for your entertainment.

The Raconteurs, "Steady As She Goes". By 2006, Jack White's presence meant a band was called a "Supergroup".

Cat Power, "The Greatest". She was already a veteran, having released her first song 13 years earlier.

Lupe Fiasco, "Kick Push". On the other hand, this was his first single.

Bruce Springsteen, "O Mary Don't You Weep". First recorded in 1915. No, not by Bruce.


Spotify playlist: 

music friday: 2002

Bruce Springsteen, "My City of Ruins". The ultimate 9/11 song, except it was written in 2000 about Asbury Park.

The Roots, "The Seed 2.0". Who would have guessed that a dozen years later, The Roots would be the house band on The Tonight Show.

Missy Elliott, "Work It". Ti esrever dna ti pilf, nwod gniht ym tup.

Solomon Burke, "Don't Give Up on Me". The album earned Burke his first Grammy, at the age of 62.

Eminem, "Lose Yourself". My choice as his greatest song.

Ms. Dynamite, "Dy-na-mi-tee". A Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

Nirvana, "You Know You're Right". Released 8 years after Cobain's death.

Sleater-Kinney, "Sympathy". Corin Tucker's finest moment, and another ultimate 9/11 song.

Norah Jones, "Come Away with Me". The album earned Jones her first Grammy, at the age of 23. Also her second, third, fourth, and fifth Grammy. It was her debut album.

Pink, "Don't Let Me Get Me". I obsess over this video. I used it in the classroom. I've written about both the song and the video before. After seeing her live for the first time, in 2002, I wrote:

The show had many highlights ... the oddest one for me came with the final song of the night, "Don't Let Me Get Me." This was the anthem all the girls had been waiting for, and seeing and hearing them sing along to this complex song was bizarre. What does it mean when a bunch of kids happily shout out "I wanna be somebody else"? The closest thing I can think of is when the audience would sing along with Johnny Rotten's "No Future!" ... as if in the act of proclaiming our nihilism, we were expressing our love of life. Except I don't ever remember wanting to be Johnny Rotten, while I think a lot of people in that audience would have been happy if the "somebody else" they got to be was in fact the woman who introduced those words to us in the first place: Pink.

Spotify playlist: