The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


Emily Mackay , July 16th, 2013 14:07

Emily Mackay encounters mucky innuendo and some Residents' popping eyeballs at Brixton Academy

"Do you like balls?" Ke$ha enquires casually, surveying a glitter-strewn, sweat-oozing and agog Brixton Academy from atop perilous heels and even more perilous bosoms.  "I like balls. I love them actually. All kinds - the round ones, the saggy ones... but my favourite kind of ball... IS AN EYEBALL!"

At that point, she's joined onstage by four dancers dressed as The Residents, eyeball heads glaring dumbly as they swing their canes into a limb-flailing hard-shoe shuffle.

Ke$ha begins to tell a story, about this guy - all she wanted to do with him was get naked. "And he was like, 'Baby no'...'" She rolls her eyes.  "Shut up and take your pants off and let's just... fuck. 'Can't we just talk?'" Ke$ha curls a lip contemptously.  "Gross. Who wants to talk when you can bone?"

Aside of the fact that she makes a fair point, it's a moment that perfectly crystallises the mix of crude humour, subtle smarts and breathtaking crassness that fuels a Ke$ha gig.

Rumours have circulated online that Ke$ha has an IQ of 140-plus and scored a near-perfect total on her SATs. Whether or not that's true, you could see why people would want to believe it; the idea that behind that vulgar-and-proud, trashed and trashy party-girl image was the cold and calculating mind of a genius.

For all its knowing dumb insolence, though, there's something a lot more genuine to Ke$ha's shtick than many other celebrated big pop acts. Compared to say, a Cheryl Cole show or a Rihanna show, she throws a terrifying amount of heart, sweat and effort into being quite adorably gormless. You could hardly imagine Ri-Ri, as Ke$ha does during 'Your Love Is My Drug' , standing between a giant pink hippopotamus and a pair of inflatable legs while a pair of drag queens apparently dressed as Kenny Everett whack Ke$ha's mother, who is dressed as a knacker-swinging penis, with an inflatable killer whale. It's heroically ridiculous, naff to a degree far beyond anything Katy Perry's cupcake apocalypse of a stage show would dare. Neither would propriety-conscious Katy, whose audience has a far larger proportion of young girls than Ke$ha's, talk so much cock. She's amusingly filthy in a brash way that seems to deflate the pouty pretension of Rihanna's barbed-wire bras or Gaga's onstage fake cunnilingus - the only point where it edges into 'Oh dear' territory is where she starts telling a story about a strip club before 'Take It Off', and dancers writhe across a scaffolding platform. Strip club, eh? Fucking edgy.

It's a rare low point, though. From the moment she rampages on to the stage to 'Warrior' in one of her large collection of bejewelled basques, surrounded by cloaked and sword-bearing dancers like some sort of post-apocalyptic tribal Khaleesi, the pace never slows. No acoustic interludes or ballad bar-breaks here, nor do you have to endure the sort of arse-achingly pretentious costume change video interludes Beyonce subjects you to - it's nothing but amyl-reeking wall-to-wall bangers. The staccato euphoria of 'We R Who We R', the hissed, wired bug-eyed trancepop of 'Crazy Kids', the brilliantly inane Valley Girl rapping that punctuates nearly every song... it's never anything less than maniacally intense, and indeed one girl faints in the heat and has to be carried out.

Ke$ha though, is indefatigable, incorrigible. Someone throws a T-shirt onstage with the words TIGHT TWAT printed on it. Ke$ha doesn't miss a beat. "Well, I do have an amazing vagina." Maybe so, but she's certainly not fannying around when it comes to pop shows.