Pink / October 5, 2009 / New York (Madison Square Garden)

Dave Hogan

Pink offered something for all her fans Monday night (Oct. 5) at the New York stop of her Funhouse tour. The Las Vegas-worthy show was presented in Madison Square Garden as an adult playground, complete with a rowdy dance troupe, daring acrobatics, appearing and disappearing body parts, and fierce stage presence.

And yet, Pink is still one of the few female pop stars who doesn't need spectacle to serve as filler for an arena show. The focal point, from beginning to end, was her voice. She sang live for the entire two-hour set and even while hanging upside-down, impressing the crowd as much as she did during her recent performance of "Sober" while swinging from a trapeze at the MTV VMAs.

The audience's pre-show energy was boosted by English rock duo The Ting Tings, who appeared on this final night of Pink's North American tour to perform favorites like "That's Not My Name," "Great DJ" and "Shut Up and Let Me Go." Soon enough, the stage lights went purple as Pink arose from the floor, lofted on a wire and belting out a cover of AC/DC's "Highway To Hell."

From the start, Pink's confidence was apparent; she looked sharp in a flattering ringmaster costume and her physique was near-perfect, having clearly undergone a serious training regimen for the tour's Cirque du Soleil-esque routines.

Pink kicked off her own catalog with "Bad Influence," which was staged like an updated version of the "Moulin Rouge"-inspired "Lady Marmalade," then did a quick-change into a leopard-print tunic and skin-tight, metallic red leggings. A strong transition to her 2001 Linda Perry collaboration "Just Like a Pill" found the singer sliding down a ramp and crawling towards the front row of rabid fans, each of whose flailing hands she made sure to touch as she sang.

A string of hits followed with several memorable moments. From the opening guitar strums of "Who Knew," the entire audience sang along with Pink's gorgeous vocal, colored by Jessie Green on violin and Stacy Campbell and Jenny Douglas-McRae on background vocals. On "Don't Let Me Get Me," Pink internalized the lyrics and stroked her torso as she sang, "Every day I fight a war against the mirror/I can't take the person staring back at me." Now clad in black lingerie, the singer writhed on a red sofa and launched into a hyper-erotic rendition of The Divinyls' "I Touch Myself." Multiple arms emerged to grope the singer from head to toe, and the crowd went wild.

Pink also played up her sense of humor, known for being equal parts sarcastic and good-natured. During the especially enjoyable "Please Don't Leave Me," she rumpled guitarist Justin Derrico's hair and roughed him up a little as she sang, "You're my perfect little punching bag." On "U + Ur Hand," she threw in a crotch grab to punctuate the line, "Lookin' tight, feelin' nice, it's a cockfight," just before the entire crowd erupted to sing the chorus: "I'm not here for your entertainment/You don't really wanna mess with me tonight!"

An electrifying vocal ensued on "Family Portrait," another hit from her "M!ssundazstood" album, as Pink was accompanied by only violin and piano. "Sober" found the star dressed in a black sorcerer's cape as she watched a man and woman perform the trapeze routine she did at the VMAs. It's one of Pink's best songs yet, boasting gripping harmonies, riveting lyrics co-written by her and Kara DioGuardi, and her voice at its finest. Towards the end of the set, Pink took on another daunting vocal in Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody," for which she sported a yellow military jacket and hat.

It wasn't just the big hits that stood out on the Funhouse tour, though. During an acoustic mini-set, Pink sat barefoot on a stool and was held in the same regard as she had been when she was inverted and singing into a headset. Though it didn't quite fit within the context of the rest of her set, Pink's statement song, "Dear Mr. President," was especially well-received with its politically charged images of war, poverty and, of course, former U.S. president George W. Bush.

The toned down theatrics didn't last very long. "Glitter in the Air," an easily-overlooked song from the "Funhouse" album, served as the night's stunning finale. Actual glitter poured onto Pink as she rose from the stage in a suspended swathe of fabric, joining a trio of synchronized acrobats in a star formation as she hung below. As she was dropped into water below the stage and then lifted again, the gentle lullaby-like song rolled on and Pink launched into a series of mid-air spins that would rival those of an Olympic figure skater.

When Pink finally touched down, she continued singing with bombast, as though the entire spectacle had been no sweat. If the rest of the show hadn't already made the case that Pink has one of the best pop-rock voices -- and the most brazen moves -- of her generation of stars, this final moment certainly did.


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