PINK spies the crane and wishes she hadn't drunk that glass of wine. She is peering out of her tour bus window at a giant hook dangling from a cage at the top of a giant crane. It is towering over the stage at the V Festival in Chelmsford, Essex.
The 38-year-old pop superstar, who fearlessly set the benchmark for onstage performance acrobatics, will be sitting in that hook in about an hour, rehearsing a dramatic zipline entrance onto the stage to the strains of her 2001 hit 'Get The Party Started'. It's been four years since she has had to fly through the air with the greatest of ease every night.
"There's my crane," she tells Stellar. "Oh, man... there's Captain Hook. What was I thinking? Look at that box just flailing in the air. I already spent the money, so I kinda have to do it, don't I? Why did I drink wine?"
When Pink fell pregnant with her daughter Willow seven years ago, the future she imagined featured a travelling gypsy family with her motocross-champion husband Carey Hart at its centre. That dream became a reality on her massive The Truth About Love world tour in 2013, when the singer played 140 concerts around the world and broke box-office records in Australia, performing to a total of 650,000 adoring fans. On that tour, Pink and Hart learnt the hard way how to navigate late nights after shows with their child's early mornings.
Four years later, the family is back on the road with a new addition to their brood. Nine-month-old son Jameson has already covered his world-famous mother in vomit during our three-hour bus ride from London to the festival site. Ah, the glamorous life. "For the first two or three months, every time I sang, he cried," admits Pink as she bounces Jameson on her lap. "I would be like, 'You are my sunshine...' and he would pull a face. Dude! That is not going to work. You are going to have to like this."
You can't blame Pink if her nerves are frayed. Aside from the fact Jameson has been a little off-colour, it's been a decade since she last played a headline set at the V Festival. The gig looms large, yet her spirits are high. Because despite the fact she has not released a new studio album in five years - an eternity in today's musical landscape - she is in the midst of an emphatically successful return to form.
Australia loves Pink, and Pink loves Australia. Like ABBA four decades before her, the singer found a warm welcome - and a kind of second home - in this country. It quickly transformed into a lasting loyalty, the kind that can sustain careers for a lifetime. In August, she released 'What About Us', the first single from her upcoming seventh album Beautiful Trauma. It instantly topped the ARIA charts - her ninth single to achieve the feat, and her fifteenth Top 10 hit here as a whole.
"I've always said to my Australian manager that it's a fluke," Pink says of her outsized local success. "The longest-running fluke." She admits that when she learnt 'What About Us' had been instantly embraced by Australia, it was "a huge relief to me, because I am so self-deprecating. Especially this time, it's important because 'What About Us' is so true, it's so how I feel and so how I want people to feel. The fact that it resonates with people is so relieving to me.
"And also, narcissistically and selfishly, I think, 'Oh, they still like me!' That feels really good. I feel like I've been clawing my way in other countries my whole life and when I get to Australia, it's these people who like me. That feels like a nice, warm hug. And it feels like there is a place in the world that I don't have to fight as hard for who I am."
A few weeks after she topped the charts here, the entire planet fell in love with Pink once more when she ambled onstage at the MTV Video Music Awards in LA and dedicated her Video Vanguard Award to her six-year-old daughter in a speech that was laced with signature heart-piercing honesty.
Pink told the audience Willow had recently commented that she was "the ugliest girl I know", and looks like "a boy with long hair". She shelved her desire to cause harm to whoever had planted the thought in her daughter's head, and instead got to work making a PowerPoint presentation.
"Baby girl," Pink told her daughter in front of the crowd about the body-shaming critiques to which they had both been subjected, "we don't change. We take the gravel in the shell and we make a pearl. And we help other people to change so that they can see more kinds of beauty." She then told Willow she loved her.
'What About Us' is Willow's favourite song on Beautiful Trauma. Over the past few years, Pink wrote 50 tracks for the album. As she was writing it, she tells Stellar, there was a year when she wrote only "slow, sad songs. I thought, 'I'm making an Adele record. Wait... I'm not Adele.' And finally, I started writing fun songs again." She sought the opinions of her husband and daughter on her work. And while they may not have cast votes on what made the final cut, their reactions mattered to her. Although there were still many moments when Willow's ears had to be covered - the four-letter word count is steep.
"This might be my most ever," Pink admits. "Maybe it's because I got to the studio and I wasn't around my kids. I could finally let it out. Now I play it in front of her and I'm like, 'Ahhhhhhhh… lalalalala,'" she laughs.
Despite once joking that the f-bomb might be one of Willow's first words, she is proud to report that it ultimately wasn't. "It was mama," Pink reveals while gazing at Willow, who is playing Monopoly at the front of the bus. "I've already done a better job than I thought I ever would."
Along with her new album and the demands of promoting it around the world, Pink has encountered people trying to create divisions and feuds with her peers. She isn't having it. A London radio host asked her: "Taylor or Katy?" Meanwhile, a keyboard warrior on Twitter tried to reignite a now-dormant feud with Christina Aguilera that dated back to 2001. Not one to stay silent, the singer hit back: "Want to point out an awful new phenomenon of the last 10 years," she wrote. "We can no longer be happy for each other. I [heart] Xtina, we've made amends…"
Although she despairs at the game of pitting pop stars against one another, she knows she's been guilty of it in the past when she would speak ill of her chart rivals. But she is now determined to shut it down, and in no mood to re-enter the fray.
"You just realise you can't make everybody happy," Pink says. "And that's OK. I remember when I was, like, 22 or 23... maybe Britney [Spears] had come out and shot to No. 1 and I was having a jealous moment. Someone around me said, 'The coolest part about all of this is you guys can all win. Everybody can win.' And that's really stuck with me, because it changed the course of my life. It changed my attitude about people. I realised there was another option: I could be truly happy for other women. And I am. I really, really am. I feel when one wins, we all win."
There was no hard deadline for Pink to complete Beautiful Trauma. Even if there had been, it was always likely to shift; everyone in her team and at her record label were aware Pink and Hart were trying for a second child. So they knew her next album would likely take a few years when she re-signed her deal off the back of her 2014 world tour. Last year, two months after suffering a miscarriage, she fell pregnant with Jameson. She continued to write and record after finding out.
Hart sings the praises of his wife's work ethic, saying it is matched only by her dedication to their family. "She busts her arse," he tells Stellar. "It is physically impossible to be any harder-working than she is. She is a full-time, committed mother [and] super-supportive wife - and the workload she carries not only with her job, but the work she does with charity... she puts her heart and soul into everything she does.
"To see her work as hard as she has over the course of the last few years, through childbirth and a growing six-year-old and an ageing athlete husband and everything in between, I am extremely proud of her."
in the days prior to her bus trip with Stellar, Pink was in London. She talked on radio, performed on television, signed autographs and posed for photos with fans waiting outside her hotel. She also took Willow on play dates and shopping trips to Harrods. In-between, she posted selfies in which she strapped on her breast pump for Jameson's "mama juice".
Now, Pink is heading back to her happy place: the stage. Ahead of her festival appearance, she spends a few hours getting ready in hair and make-up. She watches Willow play with the daughter of her special guest, singer/songwriter James Gillespie. And she hangs out with her other family: the band members and dancers who have been with her for a decade or more. They will be together again for at least a year when she heads out on a new world tour to promote Beautiful Trauma.
"It is so good to be back with my band," Pink says. "Everybody is so happy. They are good humans. If you want to be with me - and you're a good person - you can be with me until you retire. I don't need to look around. I have the best of the best.
"It's how I am in my life. I like history with people. I love people who love what they do, right?"
As the final touches of make-up are applied and her hair is set, Pink looks more than ready to get in the game. It must feel good to be back.
"Yes," she agrees, "it does. No matter what. Because this is my family. And my daughter is out there having such a good time right now with her new best friend, whose dad I met through Spotify because he covered one of my songs - and we've been performing together for the last two weeks in Europe. Everyone has been so welcoming. It couldn't be going better.
"I saw this kid, Matt, last night at the hotel. He showed up to the very first hotel I stayed at in London 18 years ago with a cake. Last night, he gave me this card. Presents for the kids.
"It was so sweet. And it's all good. If I can just get out of my own head, it's all good."
Beautiful Trauma is out on Friday. Details of the Australian leg of Pink's world tour will be announced tonight.