Dangling upside down at least 20 feet above the stage while singing “Raise Your Glass,” it was immediately clear why Pink twice rescheduled her Pepsi Center date. Part musical performance, part Cirque du Soleil, Pink’s “Truth About Love” tour requires the singer to be in top physical condition. Originally scheduled to take place back in October, Pink postponed the Denver show to recover from inflamed vocal chords and laryngitis. Fans were angry on social media and comment boards, but you can’t blame her for the delay. Flinging across the arena on bungee cords, hanging from ropes, spinning on suspended cages, you have to be fearless, fit, and most importantly, healthy.
On Sunday, a sold out crowd of predominantly middle-aged women flooded the Pepsi Center in pink wigs, pink dresses, pink sequin shirts, carrying pink signs — all horribly clashing with the orange Broncos jerseys left over from that afternoon’s AFC Championship win. It looked like a color blind person had chosen Denver’s color palette for the evening. But at least one woman was fabulously prepared with a pink Peyton Manning jersey.
Launching from under the stage into the air on a bungee apparatus, Pink started the show shortly after 9 p.m. with “Raise Your Glass.” Finally on the ground, the visibly-winded singer (likely due to altitude) continued with “Walk of Shame.” During the song’s big choruses she took breaks, relying on her backing track and singers to do the heavy lifting. And this turned out to be her strategy throughout the night. As stunning as Pink’s acrobatics are, the physical demands of her performance withhold her from using the full power of her voice. Finally, by the third song she seemed to have recovered from the opening scene, and took on some of the chorus of “Just Like a Pill.” Taking some time to chat with the audience, Pink noted Denver’s big sports day, saying, “Thanks for bringing me here as your after party entertainment.”
After a brief interlude, which seemed to hint that “The Truth About Love” is some sort of kinky sex sideshow, Pink reappeared for her most impressive stunt of the night. Hanging onto a black rope above the audience — sometimes just by her feet and not attached to any visible harness — she sang “Try.” And even though this is a concert, any singing limitations are almost forgivable given the tremendous talent and work required for the visuals. This woman is brave, putting life and limb on the line for a memorable performance.
About midway through the set, the audience finally got a chance to really hear Pink put her full effort behind her voice. Wearing a black and white gown, Pink sat down at the piano to kick off a string of low-key, acoustic songs. Without the acrobatics, without the ropes or backup singers or body builder dancers or spinning cages, Pink put on her best performance of the night. On “The Great Escape,” her voice was at full power, showing off its dexterity and strength. She followed this with “Who Knew,” accompanied by only her guitarist. You almost wished she had done this throughout the entire show. Take the big crunchy guitar riffs and the stage production away from Pink and you get one very gifted vocalist.
Following this all-too-brief segue, Pink moved back to her pop circus. She ended the night with “So What,” flying across the arena on a gyroscopic rope harness. As she flew up to touch the Pepsi logo on the arena’s roof and dipped down toward the outstretched hands of fans in floor seating, it was easy to wonder if there’s any balance to be found between the music and acrobatics. Could she risk abandoning a visually captivating performance that her audiences have come to expect by focusing on the music? Clearly, she has the ability to do so, but pop audiences might not be so forgiving.
Seth McConnell is a member of YourHub at The Denver Post and a regular contributor to Reverb.