“New York, welcome to my party,” [artist id=”3213641″]Ke$ha[/artist] proclaimed from the Manhattan Center stage on Monday night. “I am here to rock out with my co– out, and I invite all of you to join me on this lovely evening.”
Those were the first words she spoke, and as far as opening lines go, they were pretty solid. Though, two quick points of order: 1) It wasn’t actually her party, it was Casio’s Shock the World event, held in celebration of the launch of two new watches (Ke$h will serve as the company’s new “brand ambassador”), and 2) At no point during her set did Ke$ha actually whip out her co–, though it was probably OK, since no one else in the crowd did either.
It was, after all, a very corporate event, which meant that Ke$ha spent the majority of her time onstage trying really hard to convince the various suits and open-bar aficionados to cut loose (or pay attention), and though she didn’t always succeed, well, she certainly gave it her all.
Covered in glittery scales, with a starburst painted on her eye, she prowled the stage in a tattered tank top and barely-there short shorts, pointing and scowling, crawling on the floor, shaking her hips, occasionally even striking a power chord on her AK-47-shaped guitar.
Backed by an eight-piece band (which featured two male dancers, a guitarist who appeared to have been plucked off the Sunset Strip in 1986 and a keytarist who looked like Wendy O. Williams), she plowed through an eight-song set that featured all the hits and, in the subtler moments — subtle is, of course, a relative term — showcased her growing maturity as a singer and performer.
She opened with “Blah Blah Blah,” then rolled into “Party at a Rich Dude’s House,” which powered along on percussive pounding and a surging “Wooah-oh-oh-ohhh” chorus — some in the audience even deemed it appropriate to sing along — and saw her dancers toss around a bunch of empty beer cans and trash some rickety patio furniture.
(Ke$ha’s stage set-up could probably best be described as “postapocalyptic redneck Riviera.”) That was followed by “Dinosaur,” which she dedicated to all the old men she loved, and featured not one but two cowbells in the breakdown (one of which was played by her keytarist, who at this point was wearing a velociraptor on her head).
But after rousing the crowd from their slumber, Ke$ha slowed things down a bit with a pair of ballads: “Stephen,” which she introduced with “Not to be a pu—, but I’m going to sing a song about a dude” (she was being a bit humble … it’s actually a pretty funny, well-written song), and “Animal,” which saw her pounding away on a keyboard and singing for the rafters (both of which she pulled off surprisingly well).
New single “Take It Off” was next, and it sounded genuinely excellent in a large room, all big and booming and club-tastic, and then current hit “Your Love Is My Drug,” which was enhanced with a “Space Invaders” electro makeover and saw Ke$h and her entire crew bounding across the stage, waving flags and wearing plush animals on their heads. The chorus hit hard, and the crowd cheered wildly (at last!) and then, with a simple “New York … I like your beard,” the entire thing came to a close, and Ke$ha disappeared backstage.
Of course, a single spotlight still shone on her mic stand, the implicit cue for the audience to chant and clap for an encore … only, that never really happened (these weren’t exactly the kind of folks who go to a lot of shows, it would seem). So eventually Ke$ha, who was backstage at this point, grabbed a mic and shouted, “Do you want some ’Tik Tok’ or not?” which finally got the required cheers.
She reappeared and gamely charged through the tune, which still sounds great after hundreds of listens. She fired a glitter gun into the crowd, then, during the song’s climax, triggered a shower of glitter that covered the audience. Finally, satisfied with the chaos she’d created, Ke$ha smiled and disappeared once again. The crowd brushed the glitter off and made its way towards the exits. They were a bit dazed, to be honest. Like we said, Ke$ha certainly gave it her all.