It was way back in 2002′s “Don’t Let Me Get Me” that Pink delivered the lyric, “Tired of being compared / to damn Britney Spears,” complaining about the conformity expected of her while emerging into a then-crowded field of girl-pop stars. Over three subsequent records filled with aggression and raw personal history, she’s more than backed up that statement of purpose with stubbornly non-conformist action, and so it is with apologies that we must compare these ladies one more time.
Of the two blonde-under-the-big-top tours currently motoring down the highways and byways of this fine land — Britney’s Circus and Pink’s Funhouse — there is no question that Pink’s show, as seen this past Friday night at the Staples Center in L.A., is the better investment for your entertainment dollar. This is for one simple reason: She sings. It is a primal, throat-baring, no-holds-barred sound, and despite all the spectacle, it’s her voice that actually fills the arena. Whether picking a fight in “U + Ur Hand” or searching for answers in “I Don’t Believe You,” Pink uses her instrument to its fullest extent, live and untracked, every night. This doesn’t necessarily seem all that revolutionary until you consider the competition — or hear Pink sing while suspended upside down, 30 feet above the arena floor.
There’s also a slight difference of intent between Spears and Pink, as underscored by each show’s opening moments: Britney descends from the ceiling, but Pink explodes up from a pit in the floor, spinning in a flowing skirt of flaming red taffeta and belting out “Bad Influence.” This dazzling entrance comes after a cover of AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” sung in voiceover atop a short film in which she burns a house down, ensuring that her current caricature — a tattooed, muscle-bound she-devil here to get the party started — is abundantly clear. The other thing that’s clear is that the former Alecia Moore has no interest, really, in being anyone but herself. And, you know, eff you if you don’t like it. “I wanna be a professional lipsyncher,” she said at one point. “I could do like nine shows a week.” Still mouthy, after all these years.
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