Tonight, she got everyone's money...
For a night of such alchemy, it’s a sobering prospect. With all the magazine covers, adulation, rumours, stalkers that have accosted Kelis Rogers over the past year, you’d be expected to expect a calibre of celebrity ridiculousness to border on the Beckham. But on her only real UK headline spot, playing to a few hundred (hardly cramped) faithful, the emphasis lies at best upon the intimate.
Coming on more like a ghetto Laura Ashley (albeit one that doesn’t appear to be wearing a bra) than the acid-haired phoenix of a few months back, the very real fear is that Kelis-the-phenomenon has imploded. And so much has been made of the funk-metal overhaul that ‘Kaleidoscope’ is given live that the opening ‘Mars’ (all swamp-bass foundations and orchestral flourish) sounds laboured, as does a muted ‘Get Along With You’. But, always the maverick, the moment when she starts to prove that the Good Stuff’s right here is when our host proposes we “fuck lessons, fuck homework”, loosens her grip and blasts through ‘Mafia’. And ‘Ghetto Children’. And – as always – ‘Born To Be Wild’.
It’s preposterous for sure, but flanked by such a bullishly soulful backing group (vocalists outnumber players 2:1) and armed with songs of such cataclysmic rush, there’s an electricity here that makes even the astonishing recorded version sound weak.
The customary finale of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ remains. And while specifically it smells of sweat, there’s something far grander tangible
tonight. God knows where she can take it from here, but tonight, she got
everyone’s money. And their life – right in the palm of her manicured hands.