Red Bull Music Festival, Hollywood Palladium, Los Angeles, February 22, 2019
There’s a moment in the Robyn show. You know, one of those you giddily recount and discuss and dissect later in the night, looking at each other with smiling eyes; the sort you just have to post to Instagram even though your own voice is obnoxiously loud on the audio. The sort that reminds you why we bother with all this in the first place.
It comes, perhaps predictably, during ‘Dancing On My Own’, a song which could make as good a case as any for being the greatest pop single released in any of our lifetimes. Specifically, it comes a minute in, just after Robyn sings: “But I just gotta see it for myself…” and then the music cuts out and she stops singing, but none of us has realised yet so we’re all still singing the chorus at the top of our lungs, a chorus about being alone, and it’s just us singing now, the crowd, but somehow it sounds skin-tingling because we’re a choir, although we didn’t mean to be, and we’re not sure how long we should keep going for, because part of us thinks the music will cut back in after a line or two, but it doesn’t, so we sing the whole chorus, and Robyn swoons onstage, and we’re not alone, we’re all together, all of us, joined in one voice in that perfect song in this perfect moment.
So, there’s that.
The rest of the show was also very good. This was only the first night (outside Scandinavia) of a huge tour that will take Robyn around America and then back to Europe in April – including two nights in London at Alexandra Palace on the 12th and 13th – and yet it already feels like dying and going to pop heaven.
That celestial impression is reinforced during opener ‘Send to Robin Immediately’ by the opague white gauze draped all over the stage, the all-white outfits worn by her band, and the copious use of the smoke machine. There’s also a big sculpture of three hands thrown back as if dancing in the middle of the stage, which I don’t pretend to understand at all. As the night goes on the lighting – and a costume change into black leather from Robyn – transitions the ambience of the room from heavenly cloud to the dancefloor of the world’s greatest underground gay club at three in the morning on a Bank Holiday weekend. Which, granted, yes, also sounds like heaven. This is most apparent during heart-rushing highlights ‘Love Is Free’ – Robyn’s housey collaboration with La Bagatelle Magique – and ‘Don’t Fucking Tell Me What to Do’.
After the aforementioned ‘Dancing On My Own’ moment Robyn hits us with ‘Missing U’ and ‘Call Your Girlfriend’, which let’s be honest is just an outrageously good run of songs. There’s no way her encore can top that, so instead she takes the adrenaline down a notch with ‘Human Being’ – accompanied by a beautiful routine with her solitary backing dancer – ‘With Every Heartbeat’ and closer ‘Who Do You Love?’ That final song was written after Robyn and her frequent collaborator Kindess enjoyed a spontaneous night out in Stockholm with a Swedish metalhead, and were inspired to write a song about the power of community and the things that bind us all together as a society. It’s a fitting way to end a night that proved one of those things is singing along to Robyn at the top of your heart.
1. Send to Robin Immediately
4. Hang With Me
6. Ever Again
7. Be Mine!
8. Because It’s In The Music
9. Between the Lines
10. Love Is Free
11. Don’t Fucking Tell Me What to Do
12. Dancing on My Own
13. Missing U
14. Call Your Girlfriend
15. Human Being
16. With Every Heartbeat
17. Who Do You Love?