P!NK’s first Australian tour was almost cancelled.
The pop wild child had commanded the upper echelons of the ARIA charts with her first two records Can’t Take Me Home and Missundaztood and an enviable string of hits: There You Go, Most Girls, Lady Marmalade, Trouble, Just Like A Pill and Get The Party Started.
She had made the transition from “track act” performing with dancers to backing tapes to rocking it out with a band.
Club shows in Sydney and Melbourne were sweaty, sweary affairs which whipped her early adopter fans into shiny, happy mosh pits as they shouted along to every song.
It was all part of a master plan devised by P!nk and her Australian manager Roger Davies – one of the world’s most respected talent wranglers, who had steered the careers of Tina Turner, Cher, Joe Cocker and Janet Jackson.
P!nk had pretty much stalked Davies to be her manager after her debut album in 2000, determined to have the man who orchestrated Tina Turner’s triumphant return to the world’s pop charts and stadium stages replicate that strategy for her career.
“I always think you have to be a live act,” Davies says.
“So we got into that whole thing of putting a band together and building it, going to the UK and Germany, coming to Australia to do club shows.”
So when Alecia Moore (as she is known to friends and family), Davies and P!nk’s long-time Australian promoter Michael Coppel booked the Try This tour in 2004 – her first in arenas – they were confident she would sell out 15 concerts.
Despite her considerable chart presence, when the box office opened, they struggled to get six shows across the line.
“Going into that tour, Roger rang me and said, ‘It hasn’t worked. Do you want to cancel? You are going to lose a lot of money’,” Coppel recalls. “I wanted to go ahead so he said, ‘Just pay us whatever we need to cover costs’.”
Davies and his artist appreciated the support and the tour went ahead, selling about 22,000 tickets.
“The reality is that first tour wasn’t a box office success but what it did was strike a bond between her and the audience who came,” Coppel says.
And it established P!nk’s reputation as a fearless performer who took to the air for the first time during the Get The Party Started encore. The audience bond, the buzz about the high-octane rock vibe of her performances and a clutch of fresh hits from her fourth record I’m Not Dead made a dramatic difference at the box office next time.
Tickets for the initial concerts on the I’m Not Dead tour in 2007 sold out quickly, as did the next round of shows added to the schedule until the sold-out sign went up on a marathon 36 concerts. P!nk had leapfrogged from 22,000 tickets to more than 200,000.
Australia’s embrace of this brash, down-to-earth, motorcycle-riding, high-flying pop performer became a global bear hug with her Funhouse album and world tour. It all kicked off with So What, the hilarious “F … you” to her husband Carey Hart in the wake of their separation. No one could quite believe P!nk had wrangled him to co-star in the video for a song about their split.
The pair would reunite but So What had a profound impact on her career.
Funhouse was also the show which set a new benchmark for pop concert aerials. During Sober, she would hang upside down somewhere near the venue’s roof, held dangling over the stage by a trapeze artist.
She switched limbs several times, catapulted her body in mid air, and climbed the trapeze artist as a human ladder. As she pulled off moves most fans would only expect to see during Cirque du Soleil, she sang live and didn’t shirk a note.
Ask P!nk what she still has the to prove after selling more than 50 million albums worldwide, dozens of No. 1 singles in dozens of countries and hundreds of sold out concerts over her 18-year career and her answer is simple.
“What am I still trying to do? Show my kids the world and have connections at my live shows. True, honest connections, no bulls***. And maybe write a song that makes people feel better.”
P!nk’s Beautiful Trauma tour plays the Brisbane Entertainment Centre on August 14 and 15.