It really isn’t too difficult to anticipate what a Ke$ha gig will be like – glitter, booze, under 16’s, and a combination of the three. From afros to cleavage, glitter was stuck to sweaty bodies as many sweltered in heat wave temperatures just to get to the front – within 5 minutes we were sparkling simply by rubbing shoulders with the people next us. Glitter soaking complete and the crowd warmed up by Ghanian opener, Fuse ODG, it was clear a party had been planned, however the sheer silliness of the bash the Tik Tok singer was about to throw could not have been forecast.
Kicking off with ‘Warrior’, a track from her same titled second studio album, and flocked by samurai wielding backing dancers, Ke$ha romped onto stage in presumably the skimpiest, sparkliest leotard she could find. From this point, any chance of the mundane was safely expelled – squirty cream to angle grinders, props were pulled out from every side, with song after song delving further into the weird and outrageous. Samurai swords set aside, wigs were whipped out as drag was donned for ‘C’mon’ and recent release, ‘Crazy Kids’, (minus the awful Will.I.Am feature thankfully). Whether or not Ke$ha really is the wild child she seems so eager to constantly live up to, she effectively manages to veil any questioning through bizarre onstage spontaneity, with can-can dancing and tiger costumes accompanying 2010’s provocative ‘Take It Off’.
The crowd was largely teenager dominated, although looking around it was impossible to not feel awkward that some kids were accompanied by their parents – in between rattling off Animal tracks ‘Blow’ and ‘We R Who We R’, the crowd endured below-the-belt quips ranging from a description of her ‘really nice’ genitalia to the encouragement of ‘audience participation’ as men were told to ‘get their balls out’ (of which most thankfully resisted). Not to mention a ‘why talk when you can f***?’ prologue to ‘Blah Blah Blah’. Crass, crude, and fuel to the constant role model debate, but ultimately expected from a singer whose lyrical theme is wholeheartedly consumed by boys and booze. It almost seemed out of place when the pace was slowed for unreleased fan favorite ‘Machine Gun Love’, although even this was performed in dramatic gold cape and headband attire.
Between the risqué and outright raunchy however, there was a slight feeling that everything was just a bit … lazy. Her set-list was genuinely lacking (around 70 minutes) and much of her newer material was only mentioned or skimmed over completely. Die Young was an oddly chosen encore and it would’ve been a pleasant surprise to hear her sing without a backing support tract to slower material.
Overall it’s easy to see why many don’t take her or her music seriously, glitter paddling pools and songs of a constant drunken antics rhetoric don’t exactly earn artist credibility, however none of this really matters too much when she herself doesn’t care. By not taking herself seriously, Ke$ha rides on the crazy and gimmicky and largely pulls it off. Yes, Adele’s job is safe for now (the key to most songs was lowered presumably so she could actually sing it), and she’d never be able to vocally fill out (or probably be invited to) a venue like the Albert Hall, but by acknowledging this she can concentrate what she does well – throwing a party. Even if she may never shed the glitter-covered skin of the Tik Tok era that defined her, she can ride the wave of ‘is that a giant pink inflatable hippo?’, at least for now.