Nov. 1, 2017
Halloween may be over, but not for the “Animals” at Kesha's Rainbow Tour when it stopped at the Hollywood Palladium Wednesday night. Whether dressed in unicorn onesies or covered in glitter, Kesha's fans (whom she labeled Animals after her debut album seven years ago) were there to let their freak flags fly and celebrate that they are who they are.
With hits such as “Crazy Kids” and “We R Who We R,” Kesha's message has always been about embracing being different and loving yourself. Now, after Kesha's very public sexual-harassment case against her former producer, Dr. Luke, her message of self-acceptance rings more strongly than ever.
Kesha bared her all onstage in Hollywood, which also happened to be her last U.S. date for the current tour. (She'll be back in L.A. on Dec. 1 to play KIIS-FM's Jingle Ball, however.) Her incredible stage presence kept the audience enthralled for the entire 90-minute set, as they frequently chanted Kesha's name in an outpouring of love and support.
Emerging onto the stage with the feminist anthem “Woman” from her latest album, Rainbow, Kesha set the tone for the rest of the evening, emphasizing the lyric “I write my own shit” and making it clear that this would be a night about celebrating independence rather than dwelling on past hardships. For the most part, Kesha kept the focus away from herself and her struggles, and instead chose to inspire and empower her audience.
Before singing “Hymn,” a song from Rainbow encouraging the misfits of the world to celebrate themselves, Kesha dedicated it to the Dreamers, saying she stands by their right to live in this country freely. As she sang the first words to the song, “Even the stars and the moon don't shine quite like we do/Dreamers searchin' for the truth,” Kesha proved that she's become much more than the hard-partying pop star she was pigeonholed as early in her career. That being said, she hasn't lost touch with her wild side completely. She chose a fan to be her “baby birdie,” drinking some beer and spitting it into his mouth; stuck a confetti cannon between her legs to shoot into the audience; and even did a little stage diving.
Rainbow, Kesha's first album in five years, is very different from the electro-pop dance tracks for which she became famous. A little bit country and a little bit rock & roll, Rainbow, Kesha's first album without any production from Dr. Luke, marks a new beginning for her as an artist. It's no surprise, therefore, that her Rainbow Tour did, as well. The first half played out as a rock & roll set, as Kesha belted out some of the glam- and pop-rock songs from the album. For “Let 'Em Talk,” one of two songs on Rainbow featuring Eagles of Death Metal, Kesha surprised the audience by bringing out EODM singer Jesse Hughes, matching his energy perfectly for an unforgettable live duet.
The second half of the show focused more on Rainbow's country-pop songs. Playing guitar for many of these stripped-down, acoustic numbers, Kesha was able to show off her incredible vocal talents, which may have come as a surprise to those used to the Auto-Tuned dance tracks she became famous for. Kesha's mom, country singer-songwriter “Pebe” Sebert, joined her onstage for “Godzilla.” With such strong country roots, Kesha really seemed at home in the genre. For some of her older songs, Kesha either rocked them up a bit (“Take It Off”) or countrified them (“Timber”), making them fit alongside her Rainbow tracks a little more smoothly.
After a heartfelt thank-you to her fans, right before the encore, Kesha embarked on perhaps the most emotional point of the night, singing “Praying,” her first single off Rainbow. She told the audience she had to fight to release this as the first single because she wanted her fans to hear the song's story, which is widely assumed to be about Dr. Luke. She didn't attempt the high whistle note she does on the album — maybe because doing that every night could damage her voice, or maybe because, by the end of the song, she seemed visibly shaken and emotional.
After “Praying” ended and Kesha re-emerged for the encore singing her most famous song, “Tik Tok,” it almost felt as if she was covering another artist's song. Sure, it was fun to hear, but the Kesha we saw onstage for this tour was a completely different person and artist from the Kesha who ruled the charts eight years ago.
Wisely, Kesha didn't end the concert on “Tik Tok” but rather with the opening track off Rainbow, “Bastards.” “I'd like to leave you with a sprinkle of a 'fuck you' reserved for the bastards who try to bring you down,” she told the audience, summing up what could have been the message of her entire performance, a display of girt and resilience that sent her Animals out of the Palladium feeling inspired.
Learn to Let Go
Let 'Em Talk (with Jesse Hughes)
Take It Off
We R Who We R
Hunt You Down / Timber
Godzilla (with Pebe Sebert)
Your Love Is My Drug