By Chris M. Junior
Pop music ain’t what it used to be.
With so many complicated, hyphenated genres being thrown around today by fans, artists and journalists, the term pop is often used (and viewed) as a putdown, one that’s placed on what is considered to be disposable music made by marginal talents.
Let’s not forget: Pop is short for popular, pop music consists of various styles, and pop stars can be skilled musicians and performers who write and record enduring work.
Pink is that type of pop star. Her music is rich in dynamics, and as for her concerts, they’re loaded with theatrics — and that certainly was the case throughout her Dec. 11 show at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., the latest tour stop in support of her sixth studio album, 2012’s “The Truth About Love.”
The singer opened with the anthemic “Raise Your Glass” while suspended above the main stage in a bungee-corded harness. She followed that by descending from one of the primary stage’s two staircases at the start of “Walk of Shame,” then she spent a good amount of time on the stage floor during “Just Like a Pill.”
Those were dramatic and effective moves, but Pink made the same kind of impact when she kept reasonably still and stripped her music down to the core, singer-songwriter style. She handled the ballad “The Great Escape” by herself on a piano from the main stage, and she sang “Who Knew” from a stool on the unadorned curved catwalk as band member Justin Derrico faced her and strummed an acoustic guitar.
Pink ended her Prudential Center show the same way she began: up in the air. For “So What,” the lone encore, she was in a harness that allowed her to fly, spin and hover above the lower bowl of the arena — and at no point did her singing suffer.
Pink’s opening act was the Swedish rock quintet The Hives, whose lead singer, Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist, employed a series of old-school stage moves: dropping to his knees a la James Brown, throwing in some David Lee Roth-style leg kicks and swinging his microphone by its cable much like Roger Daltrey. Almqvist and company are not exactly, as he put it, “international rock sensations.” But much like Pink, The Hives have a pretty good grasp on dynamics and theatrics, so there’s still time for them to earn that lofty distinction.