Live Review: P!nk, Brandi Carlile, Grouplove, Philadelphia, PA, Sept. 19, 2023

Wherever she plays, P!nk puts on a thrilling show with her aerial stunts and monster bops, but seeing a local girl take over Citizens Bank Park for the second of two hometown concerts was next-level inspirational.

Dangling high above the B-stage for “Turbulence” and soaring on wires toward the 300 level while leading the crowd in a rousing sing-along of “So What,” leading a crew of dancers in mouth costumes during “Blow Me (One Last Kiss)” and bouncing off trampolines for “Trustfall,” and dazzling us with fireworks during multiple songs would have made the Summer Carnival tour the spectacle of the season. But even more amazing is the way P!nk belts out pop songs with an emotional punch and connects with 44,000 people—all the way up to the rafters—while shoveling a handful of Whoppers into her mouth between songs, touching on topics like visiting her dad’s grave for the first time and the enormous void that Sinéad O’Connor’s death has left, and giving everyone onstage time to shine.

Her tribute to O’Connor, a duet with opener Brandi Carlile on “Nothing Compares 2 U,” was deeply moving, but P!nk’s other covers—Bob Dylan’s “To Make You Feel My Love” (for which she accompanied herself on piano), Pat Benatar’s “Heartbreaker” (mashed up with her own “Just Like Fire”) and Sade’s “No Ordinary Love”—were all idiosyncratically selected and gorgeously performed. (P!nk’s other live duet, “Cover Me In Sunshine” with Willow Sage Hart, was sweet as well, as the superstar swelled with maternal pride when her daughter received massive applause; “Just Give Me A Reason,” pairing her with a video avatar of Nate Ruess, was as perfunctory as the show got, though not without its charms.)

But the Doylestown, Pa., native’s greatest feat of all may be pumping out banger after banger in a place that was never made for people like her and completely, naturally and seemingly effortlessly owning it. Despite a setlist packed with more than two dozen songs—including career-spanning hits like “Raise Your Glass, “Just Like A Pill,” “Try,” “Fuckin’ Perfect” and an acoustic rendition of “Don’t Let Me Get Me” and newer material such as 2022 protest anthem “Irrelevant” and “Never Not Gonna Dance Again” and “Last Call” from this year’s Trustfall—the night slipped away all too quickly. (At least until the 40-plus minutes it took to get out of the parking lot.) Forget the keys to the city; kick out the current tenants of the ballpark and sign it over to P!nk.

Brandi Carlile was a terrific tourmate, killing it on her own tunes like “Broken Horses,” “You And Me On The Rock” and “The Story” before building up to stadium-crushing covers “Live And Let Die” and “We Are the Champions.”

Grouplove’s decent alt-rock set with the backdrop of a blazing sunset was enjoyable in its own right, while KidCutUp’s chorus-centric DJ sets provided solid background music for reading between bands.

—M.J. Fine; photos by Chris Sikich

Brandi Carlile