When Robyn emerged from the ever-frothy Swedish pop scene back in 1996 with the impeccably infectious “Show Me Love,” there seemed to be little reason to assign her more than the standard disco diva’s 15 minutes of fame. But 15 years down the road, the singer is making her most emphatic push towards stardom – one that connected emphatically at this sold-out show.
Perf was low on over-the-top spectacle – there were no costume changes, no fancy displays of pyro – and high on the sort of communal vibe that’s made her such an icon in dance clubs, where the cult of personality is secondary. Not that Robyn didn’t exude her fair share of personality – hers is an odd blend of the visceral and the intellectual, like an aerobics instructor who might quote Kant in the midst of a cool-down.
The 90-minute set was fairly evenly divided between material from the singer’s recent “Body Talk” trilogy – highlighted by a hyper-charged “Dancing on My Own” and a crowd-galvanizing “Don’t F—ing Tell Me What to Do” – and songs culled from the further reaches of her catalog. Newer offerings seemed to bring out the best in her interestingly-configured backing band – two se quencer-manipulating keyboardists and two peripatetic drummers – but the petite blonde brought things together even when she turned on the wayback machine.
That could be attributed to her unflagging energy – few singers manage to make it up to this venue’s balcony levels as she did during an extended “Love Kills” – as well as a waggish humor that enabled her to segue from the profane “Konichiwa Bitches” into a sharp update of ABBA’s “Dancing Queen.”
Robyn’s brand of synth-pop doesn’t often turn its purveyors into household names, but she looks to be well on her way to proving the exception to that rule. Katy Perry, who’s tabbed her as the opener for her upcoming North American tour, might want to watch her back – this Gurl means business.
Robyn will perform at the Coachella Music and Arts Festival on April 15th.