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Review: Pink at American Airlines Center

Posted 11:41am on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013

Pink is unfamiliar with the old adage "never let 'em see you sweat."

That much was instantly evident Friday night, as she opened her sold-out show at American Airlines Center dangling a few dozen feet above the stage, belting out her hit Raise Your Glass. The woman born Alecia Moore spent the next two hours delivering a relentlessly athletic set, full of astonishing feats (for a pop star ... well, all right, anyone) and plenty of vocal firepower that was, blessedly, performed live.

The 33-year-old singer-songwriter even overcame technical hiccups -- her microphone went out during the set's third song, Just Like a Pill, but she kept going, unfazed, and as late as eight songs into the set, she was still dealing with feedback -- and held her own amid fireballs, explosions of sparks and dancers bounding about on bungee cords. The vision of her flawlessly singing her latest hit, Try, while undertaking aerial acrobatics and being slung around by a muscular, shirtless male dancer fairly well sums up the night.

It's a tough balancing act, but Pink manages to ground all the spectacle in painfully honest human moments, unlike many of her contemporaries, who simply pile on the flash above all else.

That willingness to expose her flaws, while admirable, also proves to be her Achilles heel. Her material, over the course of two hours, becomes a bit one-note -- love yourself and others, no matter how damaged -- but it's delivered with such enthusiasm and passion that it's easy to overlook the homogeneity that sets in after five or six songs.

There's also fatigue from the sheer number of hits Pink crams into her show, mounted in support of her sixth studio album The Truth About Love. She's one of the most dominant singles acts of the last decade, and she works overtime to include almost every last hit.

But as a headliner, Pink still needs to work out the kinks. The evening, backed by a seven-piece band and a small army of dancers, was ostensibly designed as a game show (hosted by the absurdly named Rubix von Fuchenhurtz), but the theme was effectively abandoned halfway through, leaving the show to lurch from segment to segment with no clear through-line. She's also overdosed on the aerial set-pieces; by the third time you're seeing dancers ascend towards the rafters, the visual impact has been somewhat blunted.

Yet there were breathtaking moments Friday that didn't rely upon a single special effect. Pink's mother was in the building, and after her wrenching hit Family Portrait, the pop star addressed her. "Mommy, I love you more than anything," she said. "The older I get, the more I need you." After waiting a beat to let the sentiment settle in, she cracked: "That just saved us $500 of therapy."

The heartfelt mixed with the humorous, the outsized pop spectacle made human -- all in a night's work for Pink, the hardest working woman in showbiz who never, ever lets 'em see her sweat.

Special note should be made of the openers, the Hives, who delivered a scorching 40-minute set. Led by the always entertaining Howlin' Pelle Almqvist, the Swedish rockers, who've built something of a career out of setting a high bar for pop headliners, totally won over an audience that wasn't entirely sure what to do with them at first. Concussive hits like Hate to Say I Told You So and Tick, Tick, Boom were the perfect sonic appetizer, and the Hives' performance was over much, much too soon.

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