By Tim Jackson
For fans, this backstage concert documentary is obviously a gift. For others, it will serve as a testament to the power of a woman whose life’s work has made real world impact.
P!nk: All I Know So Far, currently streaming on Amazon
The singer known as Pink has managed a remarkable 20-year career with eight studio albums, 15 top 10 singles, three Grammy Awards and 20 Grammy nominations, an Emmy Award, seven MTV Video Music Awards, two People’s Choice Awards, and more. In 2013 she was Billboard’s Woman of the Year. She is also an outspoken LGBTQ+ ally, a term that describes someone who does not identify as such but supports LGBTQ+ rights. Her song and video What About Us was her ninth number-one song on the Adult Pop charts. It was the featured song from the 2017 Beautiful Trauma album. The 2019 23-city European tour for that album provides the performance context for the film, P!nk: All I Know So Far.
Like fellow multiplatinum white female performers Katy Perry and Lady Gaga, Pink is outspoken, lavishly styled, and is the center of flamboyant stage show. She traveled the tour with her two small children, Willow and Jameson, her husband, a few dozen suitcases, and a mammoth assortment of shoes. She talks in the documentary about the success of her 13-year marriage and her supportive husband, an elaborately tattooed competitive motocross and motorcycle athlete who is a celebrity in a very different world. “I have two suitcases,” says her husband Carey Hart. “Yes, and they’re in the way,” Pink jokes. Behind the curtain, the two appear to thrive as proud and adoring parents. They revel in the opportunity for their children to frolic around the world, making a home out of each hotel room, tour bus, and private jet.
Pink, whose given name is Alecia Beth Moore, was a gymnast when she was younger, developed a powerful singing voice and now employs 200 singers, dancers, musicians, roadies, and managers Despite her enormous responsibilities when it comes to the tour, she can come off as the girl next door — if the neighborhood gal had a wild tuft of platinum hair sprouting from the top of her head and could swing upside down above Wembley Stadium while singing for two hours to an audience of 70,000. Following that performance, she is back the hotel chasing two-year-old Jameson around the furniture.
Michael Gracey (The Greatest Showman), who also directed her video P!nk: Walk Me Home, balances the intimacies of family life with sprawling footage of immense arena spectacles. In Q&A that followed an early screening of the film, Gracey explained that he was inspired by how gracefully the singer juggled making business decisions on the phone while changing diapers. For the most part, the director wisely keeps away from the tedious mechanics of rehearsals, sound checks press interviews, and the complex assembling and transporting of the massive production. He concentrates instead on what is happening behind the domestic scenes. Pink has a relaxed attitude about blending her role as a parent with the rigors of her professional life. A smattering of intimate family moments displays a surprisingly everyday family. In one amusing moment Jameson, still in diapers with his omnipresent pacifier, falls into a sneezing fit, bumps his head against a wall, and breaks out in tears. “What happened?,” she asks. “Oh, he sneezed himself into a wall,” Carey casually explains. In another scene, the crew teaches Willow to fly and do cartwheels using the show specially devised rig.
The high-resolution Blackmagic cameras are everywhere, and the crew is mostly unobtrusive. The children grew up around cameras. They are aware of their gaze but are neither intimidated nor have a need to perform for them. But no one is more comfortable on camera than the singer herself who can drape herself in outlandish costumes but appears equally comfortable with her hair bound up in a bandana, no makeup, sharing practical advice on parenting, the life she has chosen, and her good fortune.
Fans feel a kinship with the image she projects. She is just as likely to shoot selfies of fans she meets in a coffee shop or playground as they are of her. Regularly perusing messages from fans, she reads one long tweet from a woman whose identity conflicts and suicidal urges were eased by Pink’s music and lyrics. There is a montage of fans’ faces — and we see the diversity of the audience. There is a similar diversity to P!nk’s longtime crew, who comprise her “tour family.”
I directed a documentary in 2015 about the local singer Robin Lane, whose career peaked in the early ’80s. Back then, the world for a woman in rock and roll was much different. Having a child was enough to sabotage her career. In the film, When Things Go Wrong, Robin, then in her early 30s, was called “a bit long in the tooth” by her own manager. Creating and managing a stereotypical visual image, even a lifestyle, was essential for a female performer in the early days of MTV. Today balancing children and career is no longer a stigma but a source of pride. Pink was approaching 40 when this film was made, and she continues to project a dynamic persona, a powerful voice, amazing athleticism. For the general audience less familiar with her music this is a record of how times have changed, that motherhood needn’t be compromised by money and success. For fans, P!nk: All I Know So Far is a gift.
Tim Jackson was an assistant professor of Digital Film and Video for 20 years. His music career in Boston began in the 1970s and includes some 20 groups, recordings, national and international tours, and contributions to film soundtracks. He studied theater and English as an undergraduate, and has also has worked helter skelter as an actor and member of SAG and AFTRA since the 1980s. He has directed three feature documentaries: Chaos and Order: Making American Theater about the American Repertory Theater; Radical Jesters, which profiles the practices of 11 interventionist artists and agit-prop performance groups; When Things Go Wrong: The Robin Lane Story, and the short film The American Gurner. He is a member of the Boston Society of Film Critics. You can read more of his work on his blog.