Kesha At Hammerstein Ballroom, Monday, October 9th, 2017, Reviewed
We live for these moments.
25 minutes into Kesha’s spectacular success is the best revenge set at Hammerstein Ballroom, Kesha claimed she was getting hot and since she hadn’t stopped moving for an instant, we believed her, she took off her jacket, buttoned her shirt so her black bra peeped out, all the while the snake charmer chorus was being played: it worked as stripper music, and by the time she launched in where we knew she was going even if we hadn’t been already read the setlist, we were primed for her fourth single off Animal “Take It Off,”,an ode to drag queens in a strip club which worked as an ultimate coming out party. Last night is was an exuberant jump for joy with Kesha and her two guitarists-dancers springing through and across the stage and the entire audience screaming on the top of their lungs:
“There’s a place downtown
Where the freaks all come around.
It’s a hole in the wall.
It’s a dirty free for all.
When the dark
Of the night comes around.
That’s the time
That the animal comes alive.
Yes, it is for the gay community who were at Hammerstein in numbers, but it is also for Kesha, and everybody else, it was in the face of adversity a scream of the pure joy of dancing and singing and being alive. In a country where the other has never been more other, Kesha made a fine but obvious dance song the call of absolute freedom. She was happier, more life affirming, sweeter, stronger, and more joyful than Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, and Bruce Springsteen combined. You can’t fake the joy on that sort of level. With no real stage design, no set pieces, no twenty dancers, closed circuit TV, just a band and a couple of dancers, Kesha’s pure love of creation was overwhelming.
“Take It Off” was co-written by her nemesis Dr. Luke, Harvey Weinstein in an earlier iteration.
I saw Kesha when she was Ke$ha circa “Tik Tok” (the penultimate song of the evening), and I really loved her then, I loved all the brushing your teeth in Jack Daniels, LA hedonism, promiscuity as lifestyle, stuff. The debut album, Animal was huge. The follow up, Warrior, despite Max Martin joining Dr. Luke in manufacturing a rock and dance fusion, I personally panned and it only reached #98 in the Billboard 200. She performed not one song off it last night. Anyway, being problems were in the works with Kesha, signed to his label, claimed Dr. Luke physically and mentally abused her, and Dr. Luke claiming brief of contract. Kesha lost the battle but won the war, Dr. Luke is toxic, P!nk just said she would never work with him, ever, neither will Kelly Clarkson and just about every woman in the EDM industry. Sony have him on ice. Meanwhile, Kesha, though forced to deal Luke in financially, just had a # 1 album with the excellent Rainbow, and is currently touring behind it, with a middle finger up for every sexist SOB in the music industry. Meaning, every single man give or take. A modern Babylon where sex isn’t sex it is commerce always, and every form of perversion, including pedophilia, comes with the territory, except for Kesha. She went from the poster girl of sexual freedom, to the poster girl for blubbering loser, to the poster girl for triumphant fringe society, in the space of five years. Timber, indeed.
At Hammerstein Ballroom, her mother Pebe Sebert, who stood by Kesha throughout the trial, stood by her side while they performed Sebert’s lovely and whimsical “Gorilla”. there was no doubt that this was a pure victory for Kesha, she danced and sang her heart out while thanking for us for standing by her, and crowing how she sold out the shop in minutes. The operative word last night was heart. Kesha never lost it, opening with the triumphant neo-feminist manifesto “Woman,” “Don’t buy me a drink, I make my money, don’t touch my weave, don’t call me “honey”” –though I always sing weed. “I’m a motha-fucking WOMAN”. “Boogie Shoes” followed and the songs were all terrific, taking time to promise to support LGTBQ and DACA till the end of days on “Hymn” and “We R Who we R” and ending with one of her greatest moments: “Bastards”.
There were moments of such intense pleasure last night, such exacting and genuine coming together in a world where Transgendered people are finding their hard fought and won rights decimated by a society more scared of people’s personal identity than the prospect of a nuclear apocalypse. “Don’t let the bastards get you down?” Kesha didn’t.