The Metro – Chicago, IL
It was the mid-nineties when most of America first heard of Robyn, with hits like “Show Me Love” and “Do You Know (What It Takes)” playing constantly on pop radio. Fifteen years later- distribution and label troubles later- she’s back, slowly crawling upwards in the American consciousness, and like all great music it’s an American sub-culture that first responds to it.
Her band dressed in white lab coats, two synth players and two drummers, walk on stage, their uniform reminiscent of early 80’s New Wave. Electronic music has always associated itself with a scientific aesthetic. Robyn sticks to her roots, her electro-pop music that has come out within the last three years if filled with futuristic sounds the way Devo once did, replacing the avant-nerd with early Madonna sensibility. She jumps onstage and opens with “Fembot” off Body Talk Part 1 ushering the audience into the magical pixie world called Robyn.
I was a little worried that her cancellation the night before in Canada (due to illness) would mean I’d see a less active slightly sluggish performance. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case, she made every dance move, every extended arm move as intense as a frequent club-dancer, someone who listens to the music and reacts instinctually. I doubt she’s taken choreography lessons from anyone for the tour, all her moves seemed organic and on beat with her music, if she did take lessons from someone, good job. The audience also took cue from her and danced along with her, free-spirited with smiles as wide as their faces could allow.
Singing songs from her fourth self-titled album (2008) and Body Talk Part 1, 2, and 3 (which all came out this year) she had more than enough songs to choose from. During “U Should Know Better,” a duet with Snoop Dogg, she slows down the tempo, singing a stage single version of the track, the band interluding the electronic sounds during the Snoop Dogg verse(unfortunately, he couldn’t make it). While singing “With Every Heartbeat,” the ballad that helped emerge her career from obscurity, the audience sang and empathized with her lyrics, the audience feeling her pain. With. Every. Heartbeat.
It was during her second encore that I began to see Robyn as someone who could potentially be in the history books as a pop-diva. She began with a cover or fellow Swede pop band Abba’s “Dancing Queen,” which sent the audience into a karaoke frenzy, the entire crowd trying belting out their inner Disco Queen. The cover then transitioned into her 1995 hit, “Show Me Love.” This melody proved that through her many record label hardships this woman-who’s been in the music industry for over a decade- will have it her way, she will become the pop sensation she always wanted to be. She’s the comeback diva of the new millennium.