Last night's Robyn showcase was one of the most electric live performances I've ever seen. As someone who has played her recent album on repeat since its Swedish release in 2005, the opportunity to see the great woman in the flesh was something akin to a spiritual experience! I was expecting Robyn to be brilliant after reading rave reviews of her recent UK shows but I didn't count on such an amazing atmosphere. Within 30 seconds of Robyn taking the stage, you could almost sense the dawning realisation that we were witnessing something extraordinary. I have no doubt that Robyn's next Australian tour will grace far bigger venues than the tiny Art Factory. The chance to see a superstar at the height of her game, in such intimate surrounds, was an honour.
Robyn’s reputation as the queen of cool was reflected by the attendance of Sydney’s hilarious “it” crowd. The usual mix of painful socialites, z-list celebrities, underwear models, musicians and ex-Australian Idol contestants were all accounted for. A special mention goes to the delightful Roxane LeBrasse, who threw a bit of a diva tantrum in the queue outside the venue. Admittedly, the door Nazi was incredibly rude – even by Sydney’s lofty standards. Once everyone had descended into the freshly graffitied bowels of the old Central Stations Records warehouse, the posing began in earnest. I often wonder if there's some kind of unspoken competition to see who can look the most disinterested. Thankfully, there were enough genuine Robyn fans and Scandinavian groupies to inject some life into the proceedings.
At 10pm Robyn finally appeared on stage wearing a t-shirt printed with lyrics from Muscles’ dance smash “Ice Cream”. I've often thought that Robyn looks like an extra from The Lord Of The Rings in her videos and album covers, so I was really quite taken aback by how pretty she is in person. It’s also hard to believe she’s almost 30. Robyn still looks like a teenager. The set kicked off with a ferocious version of “Cobrastyle”. Robyn seemed genuinely surprised by the huge audience response. Fans were singing along to every word and even the posers put their attitude aside long enough to look vaguely excited. The setlist could not have been any more perfect with most of the album being covered. “Who’s That Girl?” followed “Crash And Burn Girl”, while the audience went wild for “Be Mine” and “Konichiwa Bitches”. I was very excited that Robyn sang my two favourite songs from the album – “Handle Me” and “Bum Like You” – and I think I might have slightly ejaculated when I heard the opening strains of “Keep This Fire Burning”!
One of the biggest surprises was Robyn’s poptastic interpretation of “Dream On”, which is infinitely superior to the studio version. The set ended with an exquisite rendition of “With Every Heartbeat”. Robyn even made forgetting the lyrics seem artistic by doing a crazy little dance towards the end! The frenzied crowd were not going to let Robyn leave that easily and she dutifully returned for an encore. I was hoping for some old school Robyn and was utterly thrilled to hear her bizarre, pared back version of “Show Me Love”. Robyn claimed that the song had been around since before she was born, which I find somewhat bizarre – isn’t Robyn listed as one of the co-writers? The spectacular show reached it conclusion with a punk interpretation of “Jack U Off”. Robyn’s performance lasted for slightly less than an hour but its impact on her Australian campaign will be massive. Robyn is one of the very rare artists who not only matches but surpasses the hype.
PS. “Konichiwa Bitches” is in stores today! Order your copy online here.