Robyn

Whenever I see the phrase “Big In Sweden” or “European Smash” my brain automatically translates it as “Absolute Shite – Avoid like the plague!“. This is of course hugely unfair but is based on experience of sentences like “Right Said Fred still perform to huge audiences in Holland“.
Robyn on the other hand may be unknown in the UK, and yes “Big in Sweden” but in her case this translates as “What the hell is the matter with you rest of the planet!?“.

If there were any justice in the world (apologies if you’ve now got a Lemar song stuck in your head), Robyn would be the popstar that consigned Madonna to the Old Age Performers home. A place of safety where she could merrily straddle teenage dancers into her dotage, without feeling the need to release the footage with every single. For now at least Robyn is playing to 200 at Hoxton Bar & Kitchen rather than 12,000 at Wembley Arena, but for those lucky enough to be in the crowd, 11,800 peoples loss is our gain.

You’re a selfish narcissistic psycho freaking boot-licking Nazi creep… You can’t handle me” – Handle Me

It’s a stripped down live show with only fellow Swede & collaborator “KleerUp” on drums/guitar, but Robyn can more than hold peoples attention. “Handle Me” is a opening statement of intent that’s feisty, defiant, but also bloody catchy.
Is it feminist pop?… no not really, its just classic pop music made by someone with brains and attitude, so much so that sick of the corporate slurp she bought herself out of her major label contract some years ago (setting up her own Konichiwa Records).
Next up it only takes the sound of a single drum kick to announce the arrival of “Konichiwa Bitches” probably one of the best songs released in 2005 (well I had it as 9th best… what was I thinking!?). Its pop-hop gold, out Missying Missy Elliot, with stop start beats, and hilariously braggadocio lyrics that somehow cram the boasts of a years worth of hiphop into 2 and a half minutes. The tantalising hints of The Cures “Lovecats” midway through are also inspired, and Robyn must know just how good this track is, belting it out with a huge grin as the crowd smiled back deliriously.

Don’t I look tasty like a french bon-bon, Even more sweeter than a cherry bomb
Coming with the postman like I’m a mailbomb
Comin in your mouth, Makes you say yum-yum” – Konichiwa Bitches (lyrics)

Robyn

A trip to Paisley Park is essential for any self respecting act, and Robyn’s no different offering up a cracking drum and vocals only version of Prince’s “Jack You Off“. Grabbing a drum stick she bashed out the rhythm while revelling in the songs cheeky single entendre lyrics. Straddling the line between sexiness and silliness as well as Prince himself it was a million miles from her recorded version, which I personally find a bit irritating. X said it left “quite a lot of the audience gasping in awe”… perhaps those who had expected a one dimensional pop singer.

On a side note Robyn has a history of inspired choices for cover versions… if only Britney or Madge chose to cover tracks like Saul William’s “List Of Demands” (see Google Vid).

The next track “With Every Heartbeat” is a collaboration with the drummer/producer KleerUp, and the only track tonight I’d never heard before… to say it was well received is something of an understatement. An “astonishing piece of music – sort of what you would hope a Britney / Daft Punk collaboration would sound like” said Popjustice, while DontStopTheGirlBands was reminded of the first time Kylie performed “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head“. It’s an epic pop dance monster, combining gorgeous plaintive synths with Robyn’s powerful vocals (live, its actually a shock just how strong her voice is). A song about the pain of walking away from a relationship doesn’t sound very uplifting, but when the pulsating synths burst in you’re transported back to the cheesy nightclubs of your youth, the strobe light has just kicked in, and arms aloft you beam at your friends as theirs and your drunken dancing stop frames in front of your eyes (**cough** actually maybe that’s just me?). Its bloody good that’s all I’m saying!
Kleerup may not be able to grow a proper moustache but he may well be the genius that gets Robyn the success outside of Sweden she so richly deserves.

Setlist:
Handle Me
Konichiwa Bitches
Jack You Off
With Every Heartbeat
Cobrastyle
(encore)
Be Mine

I don’t know what the hell Mad Cobra is going on about in “CobraStyle” but Robyn’s version especially live probably wins the most frenzied dancing of the evening award. The insanely infectious “Bomb-diddy-bomb-de-dang-de-dang-diggy” chorus has the audience jumping, and then Robyn herself letting go with a bout of arm flailing hip pumping action, her face contorted with concentration which quickly switches to a grin and a wink.

Kleerup and Robyn briefly leave the stage only to return to satisfy the chants of “Be Mine” that had come from the crowd all evening. Whether performed in its original uptempo style or the recent B side ballad version “Be Mine” is yet another Robyn pop classic. The opening “Its a good thing tears never show in the pouring rain” signalled a bout of crowd singalong, and perhaps a tear or two as Robyn squeezed a little extra emotion into her performance.

And that was that…. SIX songs, two inspired covers, three pop classics, and one future one. In 2005 and again in 2006 I’ve confidently expected Robyn to make the UK charts her own, and same goes for this year too. So a request… that’ll be two UK number ones in 2007 please, and don’t come back here until you’ve made it happen! 🙂

Robyn: 2006 Swedish National treasure – 2007 International treasure

Robyn – Website / Myspace / Wiki

Listen:

KleerUp (featuring Robyn) – “With Every Heartbeat (MP3)

Robyn – “Konichiwa Bitches (MP3)

Teddybears (feat. Mad Cobra) “CobraStyle (MP3)

Buy:

The Rakamonie E.P (superb 5 track UK EP) – Amazon / HMV (£3.99 inc delivery)

Robyn – “Robyn” LP from HMV

Look:

Robyn @ Hoxton 01/12/06 Flickr set

AbstractBoy took pictures of both her gigs.

Watch:

Robyn – “Handle Me (Live @ Hoxton B&K 01/12/06)” (YouTube)
Robyn – “Be Mine (Ballad version)” (GoogleVideo)
Robyn – “Be Mine” (YouTube)
Robyn & Jenny Wilson – List Of Demands” (Google Video)
Robyn live in 2005 – almost an hours worth of Robyn in concert on Google video

MTV interview with Robyn

Read:

Better than the Backstreet Boys say Dirrtypop in their review! (is that praise???)

Indiegirlandpopboy claim probably the most original artist of 21st century (and I thought I got over excited about music!)

Dont Stop The Girl Bands were in Notting Hill for gig one.

A feast of pics, reviews, and emotions on the Robyn forum.

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