Saturday, September 15, 2007

Robyn Conquers Sydney

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.


Robpop said...

Muscles was at the Dingwalls Gig and was quite amazing.

I am so glad she did Dream On. Its a beaaaaaaaaautiful song. I can see why Kylie liked it. She drops it now and then only to bring it back.

I must say you got much more than we did at her first(ish) London date back in 2006 (the notting hill arts club).

I think we got 6 songs. Most were covers. Its only in her bigger British dates we've seen Robyn explore her own back catalog which is certainly a relief to many like her legendary shows at Dingwalls and Cargo.

When I saw her live she forgot the lyrics to Handle Me. She had the Eclipse lyrics written down and sellotaped to the stage! (a piece of paper which i know own!!!). Written by her!

Ok i'm feeling you had a bit of a spiritual moment there. And yes you do feel like she eats up the music she performs. Its not that shes singing...she becomes the music she sings. You really see that happening when she does Be Mine. You feel like you've seen something very special.

(Thanks for the call btw-it was amazing!!!)

Trash Addict said...

Everything about the show was WILD!I think she chose an almost perfect setlist. I'm so happy that she did a couple of old tunes. Show Me Love, in particular, was a big surprise! It was indeed a special occasion, she is truly amazing.

Adem IAR said...

GREAT review PTA, sums up my thoughts on the Melb gig quite a lot. Crowd wasn't an issue in Melbourne though, no Z-graders and no wankers, just a nice group of solid fans, pop whores and electro lovers. She was incredibly adorable, got some photos which I'll post on IAR with a review later tonight maybe.

Trash Addict said...

I can't wait to read your review. I'm still buzzing two days later. The crowd was very Sydney - full of pretentious loons - but I find them strangely fascinating. I'm jealous that you got to meet her!

PopGoesCanberra said...

For a Canberra boy I found the posers incredibly fun, we don't get that down here so much! At least they were good looking...

Who was the guy with Roxanne in the hat - was he from Idol as well? He looked familiar.

james said...

I was only vaguely aware of Robyn, but being a bit Scando-pop guy, I went along at the invitation of my friend Patrick. After seeing her energy, I've become quite a fan. I have to disagree, though, about the audience being pretentious etc. Despite being an old bloke, 41, I found the audience really warm and friendly, even though I probably looked like a cop, drug dealer or letchy old bastard. The only z-list celebrity we saw was some bloke from Scandalous, the really short one. I've also blogged a review on with some nice pics and a short video.

Trash Addict said...

How nice to hear from some other Aussie Bloggers!

Popgoescanberra - I loved the tragic crowd. Roxane was particularly hilarious! That hot guy with the long hair is in her band now. I'm not sure if he was also on Idol but I don't think so. Sydney just makes me laugh sometimes.

James - I think you might have been surrounded by Robyn's hardcore fans who were relatively normal. The majority of the crowd were extreme. The "celebrities" in attendance were the guy from Scand'lus, Thirsty Merc, Roxane LeBrasse, Aussie Bum Models - actually most of the Universal roster was there.

I'll link both of your Blogs!

Adem IAR said...

Review is up my dear!


Trash Addict said...

Great review, Adem! The setlist was the same but at least she changed her shirt!

J'ason D'luv said...

This boy everyone's calling Robyn... I remember him from the Home Alone movies. What a little knucklehead.

Spowf said...

Can she come back!