BY MELISSA RUGGIERI/AJC Music Scene
(This review was originally posted on March 3, 2013)
A few songs into her lavish production Friday night, Pink addressed the sold-out with a simple comment.
“I’ve come full circle,” she said, adding that when she opened her hotel curtains that morning she was facing “that shiny building where it all began 18 years ago.”
Her reference to LaFace Records, the Atlanta-based L.A. Reid-Babyface-fronted powerhouse label of the ‘90s and ‘00s which launched her career, seemed to go over the heads of many in the delirious crowd, but Pink hasn’t forgotten her roots.
“It only took 18 years to get here. Fan…tastic,” she said with a hint of Pink-ish sarcasm.
Late in the two-hour show, she paid homage to her early music with a medley of the R&B/hip-hop-pop of “Most Girls,” “There You Go” and “You Make Me Sick,” reminding fans of just how much her formative years followed that post-TLC, Atlanta-centric sound.
But the Pink of today – 33, a mom, alternately elegant and spunky – is in a different stratosphere from the attitudinal hopeful of nearly two decades ago. She’s paid her dues, opening for Lenny Kravitz and Justin Timberlake over the years, and is rightfully celebrating the spoils of her first No. 1 album, last fall’s melodically rich “The Truth About Love.”
Her two-hour hits parade at Philips Arena on Friday was stocked with fizzy fun, from the opening blast of pyro and bungee cord stunts during “Raise Your Glass” to the boot-stomping “Trouble” to her fearless acrobatics in a spinning medieval egg for “Sober.”
You can only imagine the agita this woman gives insurance companies.
But what Pink has managed on this tour, which launched two weeks ago and travels the world through September, is a lot of perfect combinations.
Her show is both choreographed and spontaneous, polished, but with enough of her charming rough edges to showcase her ragamuffin sexiness.
She also looked amazing – a taut, muscular frame that sported glittery leotards, snazzy athletic pants and gauzy dresses with equal appeal – and, most importantly, sounded hearty on both ballads and uptempo numbers (though, admittedly, her fine pair of backup singers provided plenty of assistance during most songs).
As she skipped around the ginormous stage, which featured a heart-shaped video screen as its centerpiece and plenty of room for her crackerjack five-piece band to wander, Pink looked happy as a schoolgirl but was often accompanied by enough tough-girl dancers to reinforce the point that they could all kick your butts.
“I’m a terrible dancer,” Pink said, in what didn’t sound like false modesty but also couldn’t be further from the truth as she busted plenty of moves during “Leave Me Alone,” demonstrated her rhythmic prowess by whacking a mini drum kit to open the new “Are We All We Are” and gracefully weaved through the arms of a cadre of shirtless men during a sultry cover of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game.”
She also re-created her emotional dance-gymnastics routine from the “Try” video with the uber-hunky Colt Prattes, an Atlanta native, who flung her around wildly as she sang the heart-wrenching ballad.
The only misstep in this dazzling spectacle is the inclusion of an annoying “narrator,” whose shtick begins before the show as he roams the aisles engaging in such hilarity as sitting on people’s heads (then again, with an unnecessary wait of an hour between mismatched openers The Hives and Pink, at least he was a mild diversion).
But Pink has enough in her cauldron, both musically and visually, to handle this without any weak Cirque-wannabe sideshows. Whether belting “Who Knew” with only guitarist Justin Derrico providing an acoustic backdrop or handing fans the one-two punch of rowdy fun known as “Slut Like You” and “Blow Me (One Last Kiss)” with her dancing crew, Pink was firmly in control.
You could even say she’s come full circle.