“Are You Ready?”
The giant screens overlooking Cardiff Arena display these three words, inciting delirium among the 7,000 bodies all staring up at them.
“I can’t hear you. Ill ask again, ARE YOU READY TO ROCK?”
The noise grows deafening, along with the tangible sense of excitement
“I want to hear all the ladies singing along!”
At which point, instead of the lights going down, the commercial for Sheila’s Wheels alights onto the screen. No question, then, that we are in that hotbed of advertising, the pop concert.
Gary “Mudbone” Cooper and his backing band subject us to 30 minutes of funk and rock numbers, featuring a DJ with some of the most dated scratches known to man. Mudbone fails to encapsulate a venue that is just too big for them. HIs energy, wit and strong, melodic voice are not immediately obviou and by the time set closer Make The Devil Mad is pumped out, things feel like they have gone on quite long enough.
While Pink is clearly entrenched in the corporate world of her art, she also possesses that touch of rebellion, and therefore the credibility that distinguishes her from her multitude of contemporaries. Perhaps the cleverest of all manufactured artists, Pink is a sex object whilst being strongly feminist, powerful whilst frequently revealing her giggling girly side, and a lad-mag pin-up whilst a gay icon. Add to that a worldwide celebrity, and you are left with something very engaging indeed.
Her arrival is markedly grandiose. Three black-robed figures wander across a smoky, dimly lit stage before the curtain behind them falls to reveal the band in front of a giant staircase. At the top of which our heroine appears, clad tank top, security-guard hat and aviators, looking every inch the archetypal dominatrix. Tearing through opener Cuz I Can, from widely acclaimed new album I’m Not Dead, followed by Trouble, Just Like A Pill and Who Knew, Pink completely dominates her surroundings. A truly beautiful and engaging performer, aided by the fact that she has a body like Aphrodite.
Such moments are frequent, as a world of iconic get-ups are showcased in the course of the 90-minute set. Highlights include a faux-fur, long brown wig combo for Stupid Girl, a virginal peacekeeper during an acoustic rendition of Redemption Song and new track Dear Mr President, and the biker chick of U + Ur Hand. The spectacle of the night, however, must go to the performance of Fingers. Clad in pink underwear, netting is spread like a web behind Pink, into which she winds herself. She is then hoisted ten feet into the air, where she performs a seductive array of mid-air acrobatics, before dramatically dropping herself, the net catching her fall mere inches from the boards of the stage.
To further add to the visual side of things, tonight’s vocal delivery is extremely emotive. With Pink’s face constantly the focus of the 15-foot stage-side screens, the flicker of a tear can be seen during her performance of Family Portrait. With this added touch of sentimentality, the concert takes on a form so extravagant that it proves impossible to be torn away. Even the over-long instrumental sections fail to be boring. The audience show the extent of their involvement with every voice joyfully echoing the chorus for a cover of 4 Non Blondes hit What’s Up, rarely have I heard as much noise generated by 14-year-olds and their mothers. This is followed by Leave Me Alone, which is expertly delivered, and even draws the crowd into copying Pink’s wonderfully crap dance moves.
Still time for a rousing encore of Get The Party Started, plus a few bars of Sweet Dreams, and more routines at great altitude, this time with the aid of a series of purple drapes. An evening more brash, titillating and choreographed you will not find, but when such a spectacle is produced that scarcely matters. With armies of fans across the world, this multi-faceted pop queen looks set to spread a self-empowering message through the medium of corporate music, and see it gleefully taken on board. Now that really is saying something.