Kesha kept her RedFestDxb performance short and sweet on Friday night, performing less than an hour of her biggest hits.
The singer, clad in a flared black suit decked with florals, arrived just after 10pm and wrapped ten minutes to eleven, closing out the two-day festival at Dubai Media City Amphitheatre.
The Californian pop star kicked off her set with Woman, the musical equivalent of a shot of vitamin D. The funk-infused song is a delightfully brash, highly danceable ode to womanhood and independence straight from her latest album, Rainbow. It set the tone for the evening: Kesha was going to have fun up there, and everyone else was going to revel in the aftershocks of that joy.
During one of her few addresses to the crowd, the activist and singer declared her mantra: “It’s my lifelong mission to spread love and rock ‘n roll all over the world.” She stayed true to her word. Her set was seeped in rock ‘n roll. Think guitar solos, thrashing on the ground and plenty of scream-growls into the microphone. Each manoeuvre jolted her typically polished pop singles with a dose of alternative charm.
For 30 minutes, Kesha blasted through mostly upbeat songs. Blow, Take It Off, Your Love is My Drug and We R Who We R comprised the first half of her set (as well as the more emotional number, Learn to Let Go). Her band was having fun with the tunes, changing up familiar compositions while Kesha’s pronounced, nasally tone added to the improvisational quality of the set.
What followed was a lengthy instrumental intermission, during which the singer disappeared backstage and returned in a powder-blue cape. The assumption was that perhaps this was a mid-show outfit change, and another 30 minutes of hits would follow.
But it was Kesha’s encore — she only had a couple of more tracks to deliver, including her soul-stirring single Praying, which she recently performed to rave reviews at the Grammys (it was nominated for Best Pop Solo Performance), and ending with one of her 2010 breakout hits, Tik Tok.
The crowd was primarily young, some with glitter plastered all over their faces, and though Kesha was their headliner, they seemed to be equally as excited for the rest of the line-up, including Craig David, DJ Marshmello and Bebe Rexha.
Rexha put on a particularly good set, performing hits like Hey Mama, Me, Myself and I and Back to You. She interacted heavily with the crowd, complying with their chants to perform part of her expletive-laden single with G. Eazy, F.F.F. The singer was all smiles as fans chucked impromptu gifts on stage, too — modified leather jackets, fuzzy caps and even a Gucci scarf. She promised to return everything before she left. Except the Gucci.