Live Review: Robyn
Roundhouse, London, 3rd March
The Swede’s bone-shaking, sparse and thrilling live show boots pop out of the park and sky-high.
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 [a]Robyn[/a]. 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 [b]‘Time Machine’[/b] into [b]‘Fembot’[/b], which is given an extra injection of electro funk, making it sound like [b]‘Borderline’[/b]-era [a]Madonna[/a] backed by SMD playing Lipps Inc’s [b]‘Funkytown’[/b]. It might be the textbook definition of pop, but the track is anything but lightweight, ending with the bass-heavy aggression of [a]Pendulum[/a] (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 [i]Pretty In Pink[/i], then [b]‘Dancing On My Own’[/b] 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 [a]Robyn[/a]’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: “[i]What is your major malfunction, Private Pyle? Get your fat ass back on my dancefloor![/i]” [b]‘Indestructible’[/b] is like [a]ABBA[/a] given a disco makeover by [a]The Knife[/a], but besides the fact that the track has a lengthy [b]Josh Wink[/b]-style acieeed intro, it remains enjoyably bare.
With the song’s muscularity and strange [b]‘Switched-On Bach’[/b] synth flourishes there’s no need for banks of synthetic strings and Auto-Tune here. After [b]‘With Every Heartbeat’[/b] she deposits us back on terra firma, but long after she’s gone most of us are still floating.