The greatest live entertainers have a connection with their audience which makes everyone in their company feel like a house guest rather than a paying customer. But that doesn't necessarily mean that everyone in that audience is house-trained.
Four songs into her second Summer Carnival show at BST Hyde Park, during Just Like A Pill, Pink picks up a small plastic bag thrown at her feet, quickly inspects it, and then stares open-mouthed at the only person in the 65,000-capacity crowd who knows exactly what she's holding.
"This is your mom?" she asks, incredulously. "I don't know how I feel about this."
Remarkably, even this surreal curveball doesn't throw the Pennsylvania-born singer out of her stride: after belting out the chorus to what was the first of her three solo UK number one singles, she turns again to the fan in question and says, " I have to say, that was a first."
Discounting dead parents, there are four generations of Pink fans in attendance at the second of the singer's BST Hyde Park shows, her final UK shows on her Summer Carnival tour, which already played to sold-out stadiums in Bolton, Sunderland and Birmingham. The singer's awareness that this is a family show leads her to mouth the word 'Fuck' off-mic on more than one occasion, but elsewhere, nothing is compromised in one of the most spectacular live productions ever staged here, or anywhere else for that matter.
But first, before Pink takes the stage on Saturday and Sunday in London's largest royal park, her audience is warmed up magnificently by Gwen Stefani, playing her first UK shows in 16 years, and mixing solo hits with No Doubt classics in an all killer/no filler 15 song set. A closing run of What You Waiting For?, brand new single True Babe, and No Doubt's Spiderwebs and Just A Girl set up a glorious show-closing singalong on Hollaback Girl, with Stefani's dancers waving huge inflatable bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S indeed.
A couple of songs into Pink's show, the artist formerly known as Alecia Beth Hart stops for a little chat with a 10-year-old girl in the audience, and discovers that this is her very first concert. The singer pauses for a moment, pulls a theatrical thoughtful pose, and suggests, tongue-in-cheek, that the kid's future experiences of live music might just be all downhill from here. It's a joke, obviously, but by the end of Pink's 24-song spectacular, 65,000 people will exit Hyde Park thinking the same thing.
From the moment she called out US music executive LA Reid on Don't Let Me Get Me on her second album Missundaztood - 'LA told me, You'll be a pop star
All you have to change is everything you are' - Pink ( or P!nk, as it's 'properly' stylised) hasn't been one to hold back, and her Summer Carnival is, in the best possible way, a lot.
The show begins with a seemingly glitching Max Headroom-style Pink simulation addressing the crowd, before the real thing descends, bungee-jump style, from a giant pair of lips, and launches into Get The Party Started, then bounces upwards into the arms of two dancers suspended upside down on trapezes, as the synth riff from Eurythmics' Sweet Dreams is mixed in. Then, as animated skulls and unicorns spin around on the Great Oak Stage's screen, it's straight into Raise Your Glass, and its shout out to "loud... dirty little freaks". Now that is how you make an entrance.
As a glimpse into Pink's commitment to her show, consider this little snapshot: ahead of Turbulence, a song she accompanies with stunning aerial acrobatics, the singer received a message on her headset that there's a technical problem which means she'll have to abandon her traditional staging, for safety reasons. Crouching down to discuss the problem with someone in her crew, beneath the stage, she tells the crowd, "Dave wants me to be alive you guys", mock sighs, and adds, "We're gonna try it one more time, and if it doesn't work, we'll stay alive." It works. She lives. It's stunning.
Quite honestly, there's so much going on in this show that you could write a book about it, so here's some edited highlights: there's a fabulous blast through Pat Benetar's Heartbreaker appended to Just Like Fire, and beautiful renditions of Sade's No Ordinary Love, and Bob Dylan's Make You Feel My Love. There's a sweet duet with her daughter Willow Sage Heart on Cover Me In Sunshine. There's footage of the 2021 Capitol riots and the 2017 Women's March on Washinghton DC ahead of a fiery Irrelevant (key lyric: "Girls just wanna have rights / So why do we have to fight?"), and even a dick joke with a difference, laughing at online idiots who insist that she has "a secret penis".
"Wouldn't that be funny?" she muses. "That'd be fabulous. Then I could fight with myself."
Few artists do 'fuck you' songs with such panache.
And then there's the show-closing So What. Holy shit. If you're familiar with the song, you'll know that the chorus runs "So, so what? / I'm still a rock star / I got my rock moves / And I don't need you", and tonight those rock moves involve Pink strapping into a harness, flying out over the heads of the audience, pulling off spins and dives before landing - on one foot - on a metal stanchion mid-crowd, and then flying off again, like a punk rock Tinkerbell. ALL WITHOUT MISSING A NOTE. In four decades of gig going, it's the single most spectacular piece of staging this writer has ever seen, and for those stood near us in the Golden Circle, sorry about all the squeals of delight.
"I get told that I'm irrelevant," Pink tells London with a smile at one point. "I think we just proved that wrong."
BST Hyde Park runs for two more weekends: Guns N' Roses, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Blackpink, Lana Del Rey... the bar has just been raised.