Kesha Rebel, Toronto ON, October 16

Kesha Rebel, Toronto ON, October 16
Photo: Stephen McGill

Kesha's latest album, Rainbow, is a testament to her strength — and not just in its lyrical content or fearless genre-jumping. Given the singer's highly publicized legal battle with producer Dr. Luke (stemming from allegations of rape and emotional abuse), the record's mere existence feels miraculous.
An even stronger force in person, Kesha stepped onstage in Toronto last night (October 16) to face a sold-out crowd of tie-dyed, glitter-doused, pink-and-purple-and-blue-and-green-haired devotees.
Donning a black velvet power suit, her majestic blond hair billowing around her (with some help from a wind machine), she certainly made an entrance, kicking off the set with "Woman." The funked-up feminist anthem set the tone for the evening — celebrating oneself, flaws and all.
Rainbow cuts "Boogie Feet," "Learn to Let Go" and "Hymn for the Hymnless" continued the high-energy charge through the first part of the show.
Following a couple of oldies ("We R Who We R" and "Take It Off"), Kesha disappeared for a brief breather, only to return as an all-white, sparkling, feathery country queen. Fittingly, she took things in a twangier direction with "Spaceship," a "Hunt You Down" and "Timber" mash-up (because it's not a party until a Pitbull song turns up) and the lullaby-esque "Godzilla." The party really got started, though, when Kesha busted out the buckets of glitter during "Your Love Is My Drug" and the confetti cannons during "Blow."
The mood soon came down drastically for closer "Praying," though it was the undeniable highlight of the evening; Kesha proved her prowess as a vocalist and visibly moved the singing-along-to-every-word audience. She prefaced it with a heartfelt thank you to her fans for their support during her struggle to regain artistic freedom, but the performance alone seemed more than enough thanks for the adoring "animals."
As genuine as the audience appreciation felt, Kesha's between-song banter and proclamations of fan love significantly chopped up the flow of the show. It was endearing to see handwritten letters and even a handmade, light-up spaceship-adorned jacket passed up on stage at first, but by the time the singer walked down into the crowd to take a selfie with one fan and wish another four fans a "happy birthday," it began to feel like an eternity between actual songs.
Thankfully, Kesha closed out strong, returning for an encore that featured "Rainbow," "Tik-Tok" (can confirm it's certifiably still a jam) and a final "fuck you" to bullies and bigots with "Bastards."
As Kesha put it, everything that emanates from her comes from a place of positivity — she just happens to say "fuck" a lot. And as cheesy as her stage persona can be, her ability to convey strength in vulnerability and provide a mainstream voice for outsiders is truly a triumph. Ultimately, her performance was as meaningful as it was fun, leaving the city with good vibes and trail of glitter halfway down the block.

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