The uplifting spectacle of P!nk's summer carnival tour - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart

If you were driving down I-76 yesterday evening, you couldn’t miss the amount of the Philly skyline lit up in fuchsia: Liberty Place, the Symphony House tower, CHOP’s Roberts Center. The color coordination may have been coincidental, but I like to believe it was because Alecia Beth Moore Hart was back home.

The Doylestown-born pop star, better known as P!nk, has been on tour this summer in support of her ninth studio album, Trustfall, which is funky and dancey and rootsy and cathartic all at once. Her ‘Summer Carnival’ run made two stops in her hometown this week at Citizens Bank Park, playing to sold out crowds on Monday and Tuesday. This leg of the tour featured the high-octane modern rockers Grouplove getting the show under way, with the playful DJ KidCutUp on the ones and twos between sets, dropping one pop cultural touchstone after another: “Edge of Seventeen,” “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head,” “Fight For Your Right To Party,” a mashup of “Wonderwall” and “No Diggity.” It was great, but here in the XPN-verse, anticipation was most high for the direct support act: the one and only Brandi Carlile.

Brandi Carlile | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Backed by her two-decades-plus collaborators Phil and Tim Hanseroth and an expansive band, Carlile came out swinging with the rock rage of “Broken Horses” ripping into the bright and buoyant folk-pop of “You And Me On The Rock” from 2021’s In These Silent Days, accented with gorgeous backing vocals by Chauntee and Monique Ross (aka SistaStrings) and Kyleen King.

Full of effusive joy as always, Brandi used her hour-long set to give shoutouts to Tin Angel and WXPN, and marvel at scope of this crowd. The dates at the Bank were her first as part of the Summer Carnival tour — she’s with P!nk for the next two weeks, playing Nashville, a string of Texas dates, and San Diego — and she appeared genuinely awestruck at the step up from 12,000 capacity amphitheaters to 44,000 capacity fields. “I actually think this is the most gigantic show we’ve played in our 20 years on the road,” she said. Here’s wishing for many more of those; the riveting rendition of “The Story” that followed sounded so at home in a stadium, with soaring strings and amps cranked to the max, that it’d be tragic if there weren’t.

Brandi Carlile | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

As DJ Robert Drake told me after he attended Monday night’s show, it’s odd thinking of Brandi Carlile not as the headliner — she’s such a part of the fabric of the XPN community! — but for her part, this is a terrific career move, getting her in front of the eyes of a new (for her) and sizeable audience. And for the headliner’s part, P!nk made it clear she was truly a fan.

While paying homage to the late Sinead O’Connor by covering “Nothing Compares 2 U,” P!nk brought out Carlile to trade vocals and blend harmonies with her. It was one of those moments of two powerhouse divas just going at it in unison — high notes after high notes, runs after runs, bold but tasteful — and as the duet got an ovation from the capacity crowd and Carlile exited, P!nk said “So good, right? I still remember the first time I heard ‘The Story.’ I turned it on and I just cried. A lot.”

P!nk | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Beyond making her Brandi fandom evident, P!nk packed her two-hour set wall-to-wall with dazzling, uplifting spectacle. Bright 80s dayglo and neon color palettes filled the stage and screens around the stadium; a clever and delightfully nostaglic Max Headroom avatar introduced the night; thrilling circus acrobatics were the order of the first portion of the show, with P!nk taking breathtaking bungee cord dives from the roof of the set to the stage, pivoting and doing splits mid-air while singing and seemingly having the best time. Did I mention there was a huge dance crew? Giant disco balls? Inflatable flamingos on wheels? Summer Carnival indeed.

In addition to a strong showing of Trustfall, P!nk offered healthy revisits of her breakout 2000 album Missundaztood — the massive opener “Get The Party Started” did just want it promises, “Just Like A Pill” made for one of the night’s first big emotional singalong moments, and “Don’t Let Me Get Me” landed in an acoustic rendition in the show’s third act — as well as 2012’s The Truth About Love — “Try” was a powerful pop anthem towards the end of the show’s opening hit parade. She also explored an array of covers, from Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love” to Sade’s “No Ordinary Love,” and brought out her daughter Willow Sage Hart to duet on “Cover Me In Sunshine.”

P!nk may have broken out at the dawn of the 21st century, but her crowd in Philly this week was not limited to elder millennials; looking around the packed stands of Citizens Bank Park, you could see an array of generations — grandparents to parents to children to young couples to singles — all together, all experiencing a few hours of joy in the brisk late summer air. It was a perfect way for P!nk to reconnect with her Philly audience and throw a them a homecoming show like no other.

Pink’s Summer Carnival tour picks up on the last day of summer — this Saturday, September 22nd — in Nashville. Full dates can be found here; check out a photo gallery of last night’s concert below.

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