Kesha isn’t about to let the “bastards” get her down.
In front of a sold-out Hammerstein Ballroom crowd Monday, Kesha began the show with two middle fingers raised defiantly in the air, a huge grin stretched across her face.
“Is there anyone here who can buy their own drink with their own money?” Kesha, 30, asked before launching into “Woman,” proclaiming, “I’m a motherf—ing woman, baby, alright.”
It would be difficult to fully appreciate Kesha’s performance without acknowledging her tumultuous past several years.
In 2014, Kesha accused her producer Dr. Luke (whose full name is Lukasz Gottwald) of sexual assault and battery, claims that were dismissed by a New York judge in 2016, after which Kesha dropped the suit. But the legal dispute and back-and-forth in the press helped transform Kesha into a feminist heroine, earning public support from stars like Taylor Swift, Lena Dunham, Lady Gaga, Kelly Clarkson and more.
Regardless of the fallout from that controversial era in her career, New York’s stop on the “Rainbow Tour” gave Kesha the chance to have the last word.
Songs off her new album (and the tour’s namesake) like “Let ‘Em Talk” and “Learn to Let Go” were filled with empowering messages like not listening to the haters and moving on from trauma. The crowd, many of whom will probably have glitter stuck to their bodies for the rest of 2017, triumphantly sang along throughout the set.
Kesha went out of her way a number of times during the show to convey her gratitude for her fans sticking with her through dark times.
“You know what I’ve been through,” Kesha told the audience. “I don’t know if ‘Rainbow’ would exist without you.”
Before the song “Hymn,” the singer expressed her support for young, undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.
“I want to dedicate this to the Dreamers,” Kesha said. “I will stand by you forever.”
Later, in a nod to her status as a queer icon, Kesha told the audience that she had “zero tolerance for any discrimination of any f—ing kind.”
“I promise, until I’m six feet under, that I’m going to stand for that s–t,” Kesha said. “I’m going to stand for equality until I die.”
The night’s mission statement came in the form of set closer “Praying,” with Kesha delivering the emotional ballad with fury and grace.
During the encore, Kesha revealed that not long ago, she had been “sitting on the floor of a rehab facility” with an eating disorder.
“And I was dreaming of day like today,” Kesha told the audience, holding back tears.
When the show came to a close with the final chords of “Bastards,” confetti raining down upon the crowd, Kesha’s message was clear.
You might need to go to hell and back, but you’ll find hope at the end of the rainbow.
Just nineteen months ago, Kesha sobbed in a Manhattan courthouse upon learning she would not be released from her record label contract — but the singer was having a grand time Monday at Hammerstein Ballroom.
Learn to Let Go
Let ‘Em Talk
Take It Off
We R Who We R
Hunt You Down
Your Love Is My Drug