Kesha is one of the most recognizable stars of the last fifteen years. After her feature on Flo Rida’s “Right Round” (2009) and the release of her debut album “Animal” (2010), she skyrocketed to fame, defining the soundtrack of many Gen Z children. Her rise to stardom was fueled by pop-dance tracks such as “Tik Tok” (2010) and “We R Who We R” (2010), which, preceding her album “Warrior” (2012), topped the charts and became part of the quintessential party music of the era.
However, her career came to a halt in 2014 as she battled bulimia nervosa and sued her producer, Dr. Luke, for sexual assault and harassment. Her return music came in 2017 with the “Rainbow” album, followed with “High Road” (2020), and finally, “Gag Order” (2023) earlier this year.
Kesha performed at the MGM Music Hall on Nov. 1 as a part of her “The Only Love Tour,” which the Daily attended.
The star opened with a song from her latest album, “Only Love Can Save Us Now” (2023), sporting a black leather bodysuit. In the middle of the song, the lyric “I’m getting sued because my mom has been tweeting” reflected a since-dismissed defamation lawsuit that Dr. Luke filed against her. However, the production stopped for a moment in the middle of the song as she shouted “Not anymore, b-----s!” (Kesha and her former producer settled the almost decade-long saga of lawsuits and countersuits in June of this year.)
Next, she brought the crowd back to 2010 with some of her most famous hits — “TikTok” (2010), “Cannibal” (2010) and “Backstabber” (2010) — to bring even more energy to the concert. Lyrics such as “The party don’t start till I walk in” exuded the confidence Kesha has brought to thousands of fans (who she has deemed her “Animals”) over the years.
Before the introduction of “Cannibal,” she revealed that she was “single as f---,” and that her partner had recently broken up with her. “Don’t you know I eat men?” she exclaimed as she acted as her own DJ, spinning a small turntable as the production of the song began. The audience screamed in excitement as she sang one of her most renowned hits and was supported by her backup dancers performing in unison.
“Raising Hell” (2019) came next, with dramatic church bells and uplighting to illustrate her journey of self-discovery and joy as she weathered career challenges. “Take It Off” (2009) and “Good Old Days” (2017) followed.
Then, the show took a more somber turn as she performed “Eat The Acid” (2023) — another song from her most recent record — with a dim, but colorful background and repeating the lyric “You don’t wanna be changed like it changed me.” She kneeled to her pedestal in a wholehearted expression of the trauma she experienced. “Fine Line” (2023) was next and had a similar message in relation to her personal struggles.
Kesha performed another classic party anthem of the last decade, “Timber” (2012), and treated her fans to a song she had never sung live before — “Peace & Quiet” (2023). She showcased her artistic flair with an auto-tuned voice and relatively simple background production for “Your Love Is My Drug” (2010) and “Die Young” (2012) — two songs about living one’s life to the fullest in their youth.
The last three songs of the ninety-minute set were an excellent way to round out the story that Kesha was telling. Though the pop star has been through some of the toughest experiences one could imagine, she still retains the intense desire for love and excitement in her performances. Kesha and her backup dancers strutted to “Blow” (2010), giving the audience a wink as she exited the stage.
In her encore, she once again greeted the “Animals” with “Praying” (2017), displaying her powerful vocal range. “I hope you find your peace / Falling on your knees / Praying” she sang, in reference to her mental health issues during the Dr. Luke trial.
She closed the show with “We R Who We R”, empowering the audience with the lyric “You know we’re superstars.” Several drag queens came onstage, donning many colorful ensembles and echoing the message of self-acceptance.
Kesha’s set encapsulated the feeling of being oneself. Her animated stage presence has not faded in the face of the career challenges she has, until now, been unable to speak about. Above all, her performance echoed what she said: that her concert is meant to be a safe space of love, where everyone is free to be themselves. “The Only Love Tour” underlines a message she sings at the end of the song that inspired the tour’s name: “I don’t got no shame left, baby, that’s my freedom.”