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Sold-out crowd rocks out to dramatic, acrobatic Pink show

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John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press

Pop superstar Pink performed to a sold-out crowd of 14,000 at MTS Centre Tuesday night.

Pink is suspended high above the stage, spread-eagle amid an explosion of pyrotechnics.

Five minutes in, and it’s already one a hell of a show.

Tuesday night’s sold-out show at the MTS Centre — a makeup show for her scrapped October date — was one of the final dates on the serial hit-maker’s sprawling, four-leg, three-continent Truth About Love Tour. By now, concertgoers know what they’re in for: a dizzying Cirque du Soleil-inspired spectacle that doesn’t skimp on the drama. Pink’s much-publicized aerial acrobatics — which first stunned at the 2010 Grammy Awards — come as no surprise considering she was an aspiring gymnast back when she went by her given name, Alecia Moore, in Pennsylvania.

Still, when it comes to laboriously choreographed arena-pop spectacles, there’s a certain mutually agreed-upon understanding that an elaborate stage show may come at the expense of the quality of singing.

Not a Pink concert. She sings live — even when she’s upside down. And as utterly thrilling as the aerial choreography was, Pink’s voice — that husky, raspy, smoky voice — was a lesson in power and stamina all its own. The pacing of the show was breathless; Pink popped off powerhouse hits Raise Your Glass, Walk of Shame, Just Like a Pill and U + Ur Hand, in quick succession, commanding the stage like the rock star she is.

And when she brought both elements together, the result was sublime. Suspended above the catwalk in a barely there black bikini, she effortlessly belted out the rafter-reaching anthem Try while running through a heart-in-throat aerial routine before returning to Earth for a steamy pas de deux with a very muscular male dancer.

While she has a ton of her own hits to choose from, Pink does have a few covers up her spandex sleeves. Her take on Chris Issak’s Wicked Game was a little too faithful to the original, but she beautifully set up a restrained-but-stunning performance of Just Give Me a Reason.

Of course, the high-flying acts kept coming. During her power pop opus Sober, she tested the limits of her body and voice, flawlessly executing a group routine in a rotating cage at a dangerous height.

Some of the night’s most striking moments happened on the ground. Pink brought the tempo down, but not the energy, for a pair of stripped-down ballads, The Great Escape and Who Knew.

"I’ve been told by a three-year-old that this next song is full of ‘mom words,’ " she joked, referencing her daughter Willow, before launching into the righteous anthem F---in’ Perfect, which got the fists in the air.

Pink slipped into a pair of sweet kicks, hammer pants and a cropped motorcycle jacket — it appears she’s contractually obligated to have her incredible abs on display at all times — for a medley of Most Girls, There You Go and You Make Me Sick that returned to her hip hop roots. Props must be given to her crew of backup dancers, who always looked like they were having the best time in the room.

The show ended with a spectacular bang. For the encore — So What, her anthem for jilted lovers everywhere — she tumbled and soared through the air, traversing the length of the entire arena, handing out high fives to the people on the floor. Those who left early to beat the traffic missed out on an unforgettable concert moment.

Since she burst onto the scene with 2000’s Can’t Take Me Home, Pink has been pop music’s most successful rebel, carving out a career by being herself and giving a lot of people a lot of middle fingers along the way. She defies expectations with the ease she defies gravity. She’s simultaneously a pop star with a hefty CoverGirl contract and an artist with an uncompromising vision. She’s a critical and commercial darling who manages to have indie cred and mainstream appeal. She’s a freaking superhuman with abs of titanium, but as she proved with her self-effacing stage banter, she’s also completely down to earth — even when she’s up in the air.

Up-and-coming act the Kin, which was handpicked by Pink to serve as her opener, turned in a tight set that boasted even tighter harmonies. The Australian brothers — who now call NYC home — released their major-label debut EP, Get On It, in 2013. Despite being relatively new to the scene, they sounded right at home on an arena stage.


Updated on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 11:19 PM CST: Fixes typo.

11:35 PM: Adds write-thru with full concert review.

12:12 AM: Adds slideshow.

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