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Live Review: Robyn
Roundhouse, London, 3rd March
Banks of blue light dazzle the eyes, as a mothership-sized Moog plays a THX-style sonic ident that turns the entire Roundhouse into a giant bass bin. A disembodied fembot voice tells us to grab onto our asses and say a prayer as the entire venue is about to blast off. Destination: Planet Robyn. And when the compact superstar (days of being either a cult concern or one-hit wonder long behind her, as the size of tonight’s venue attests) sprints onstage like a particularly glamorous escapee from This Is England ’86, with a page-boy crop and a Konichiwa bomber jacket, there is such a tumult you could swear that the venue really does levitate about a foot.
She goes straight from ‘Time Machine’ into ‘Fembot’, which is given an extra injection of electro funk, making it sound like ‘Borderline’-era Madonna backed by SMD playing Lipps Inc’s ‘Funkytown’. It might be the textbook definition of pop, but the track is anything but lightweight, ending with the bass-heavy aggression of Pendulum (albeit not stinking like a tramp’s fetid arsecrack in a heatwave). If teen flick legend John Hughes were still with us and making films like Pretty In Pink, then ‘Dancing On My Own’ would be his go-to song to suggest that everything is darkest just before dawn.
Live, it still has the power to break hearts into ragged bloody chunks. The ace up Robyn’s sleeve is her work ethic; she expects the audience to get down as hard as she does onstage, and doesn’t stop until we do. In another life she was probably a disco drill instructor: “What is your major malfunction, Private Pyle? Get your fat ass back on my dancefloor!” ‘Indestructible’ is like ABBA given a disco makeover by The Knife, but besides the fact that the track has a lengthy Josh Wink-style acieeed intro, it remains enjoyably bare.
With the song’s muscularity and strange ‘Switched-On Bach’ synth flourishes there’s no need for banks of synthetic strings and Auto-Tune here. After ‘With Every Heartbeat’ she deposits us back on terra firma, but long after she’s gone most of us are still floating.
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