Overlooking the Upper New York bay on a humid evening Sunday (June 25), throngs of sweating concert-goers decked out in a sea of rainbow colors cheered one name: “CHRIS-TI-NA! CHRIS-TI-NA!”
They didn’t have to cheer long before pop superstar Christina Aguilera appeared on the stage at Brooklyn Army Terminal for her headlining set at NYC Pride Island 2023. Striking a formidable pose center stage — dressed in a rainbow rhinestoned jumpsuit and bedazzled wrap around shades with her hair styled in three massive pigtails — Xtina welcomed her adoring crowd. “What the f–k is up, New York Pride?!” she bellowed into her microphone.
What ensued for her cheering fans was a non-stop tour-de-force of the pop phenomenon’s greatest hits. Kicking things off with high-energy renditions of fan-favorites like “Your Body,” “Dirrty” and “Cant Hold Us Down,” the star pranced around the stage with her backup dancers, making sure to stop and give fans a tasty vocal riff every now and then.
Of course, the star made sure to throw it back to some of her oldest hits for her day one fans in the crowd, delivering renditions of “Genie in a Bottle” and “What A Girl Wants” early in her set. “It has been such a long and beautiful journey in my career, and I feel like I’ve come full circle today at this point,” she told the crowd, beaming. “Thank you guys so much for giving me everything a girl could have asked for … I want to give everything back to you at this point — you deserve all of it and more.”
Part of what made the show so intoxicating to watch was the lack of fanfare when it came to the staging — backed up simply by three jumbotrons and set of metal stairs center stage, Xtina and her once-in-a-generation voice remained the focal point of an otherwise sparse stage.
That is, until, she made a concerted effort to shift that focus. In one of the more touching moments of the evening, Aguilera brought out Ian Axel of A Great Big World to help her deliver a tender rendition of their 2013 duet “Say Something.” Speaking to the crowd beforehand, the pop superstar made it clear exactly what she hoped they would take away from their emotive performance.
“There’s times where we’re looking for answers and looking for hope. There’s a lot of bleak things out there right now. We are here tonight and we stand in unison to be free to be ourselves,” she declared, eliciting roaring cheers from the crowd. “Sometimes we have to remember to stay hopeful and wish others well even in the darkest times. So let’s put well wishes into the world. Here’s hoping for a beautiful future.”
Axel was not the only special guest to join Aguilera for the evening’s events — during a raucous rendition of “Lady Marmalade,” the singer brought out pop-rock sensation and American Idol alum Adam Lambert to perform P!nk’s verse. Dressed in a swanky green leopard-print top and sporting bright purple hair, Lambert offered his own flavor on the iconic Moulin Rouge track, much to the audience’s delight.
But Aguilera wasn’t simply in attendance to give a great show — she came prepared to spread a few important messages. In the lead up to a heart-wrenching rendition of her iconic single “Beautiful,” the backdrop of the stage bore a message directly from the singer, calling out social media’s negative impact on the body image for children today.
The set’s most potent moment, though, came in its penultimate number. As news clips covering the outbreak of anti-LGBTQ legislation in the United States flashed around the backdrop of the stage, Xtina’s voice got angry. “One thing about us; we never quit. We never stop raising our voices,” she declared, before launching into a fiery rendition of “Fighter.” As she growled the empowering lyrics, messages flashed across the stage, declaring that “we are fighters,” and that ultimately, “you are not a crime.”
That theme of self-love permeated Aguilera’s set on Sunday night — as she delivered moment after moment of vocal acrobatics to thrill her audience, she also made sure that they felt just as heard as she did. As her song “Let There Be Love” played and a barrage of fireworks exploded overhead, Xtina offered one final message to her throngs of adoring fans; “Always love yourself, and love one another!”
Check out the full setlist from Christina Aguilera’s 2023 Pride Island performance below:
- “Your Body”
- “Cant Hold Us Down”
- “Genie in a Bottle”
- “What A Girl Wants”
- “Ain’t No Other Man”
- “Say Something” feat. Ian Axel
- “Show Me How You Burlesque”
- “Lady Marmalade” feat. Adam Lambert
- “Let There Be Love”