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Robyn At Club Nokia : This Bird Soars

Lilian Min |
November 18, 2010 | 5:21 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter

Robyn (photo by Lilian Min)
Robyn (photo by Lilian Min)
Let’s be real: not all artists sound the same live as they do on their albums. So it’s a real treat when a performer not just matches that album quality, but even surpasses it.

Such was the case with Robyn Thursday night at Club Nokia.

The show started off with two opening acts, Natalia Kills and Maluca. Both groups fit very nicely with Robyn’s pro-feminista shtick, although in very different ways.

Natalia Kills could best be described as electro-latex-horror femme fatales, with darkly tinged lyrics about love gone wrong. Their act was predictable but still enjoyable, although there was enough hair-whipping going on to make Willow Smith raise an eyebrow.

Afterward, Maluca took the stage and roared her way into the audiences’ conscious. Changing between brutally delivered Spanish lyrics and equally brutally delivered English lyrics, Maluca reached out to all members of the audience. Again, not the most original act, but still an enjoyable fiery presence leading up to the night’s main set.

Robyn’s been recording music since the ‘90s, but it’s only with her more recent releases that she’s gained such a cult following, especially in the States. She’s an unlikely superstar: a diminutive woman with a recognizable platinum blonde cut, she’s one of Sweden’s hottest pop acts, which is actually saying something, considering Sweden’s incredibly active music scene.

And so everybody flocked to Club Nokia Thursday night to see this pop goddess perform. Both the lower and upper tiers of the venue were packed by all sorts of people, 75 percent of who were probably exclusively interested in men.

On a stage flanked by spinning pinwheels and musicians in space technician suits, Robyn led the crowd through hits off her latest releases, like the incredible “Indestructible” and the broken-hearted anthem “Dancing On My Own.”

Particularly noteworthy during her formal set were her performances of songs she had performed with other people, like “The Girl and the Robot” with Röyksopp and her original set-closer “With Every Heartbeat” with Kleerup, both also Scandinavian acts.

Also great: “Konnichiwa Bitches” segueing into “In My Eyes,” a faithful reproduction of “Body Talk Pt. 2's” introduction.

But Robyn revealed the depth of her catalogue during her two encores, ending her first one with “Be Mine!” and ending her second one with “Dancing Queen” by ABBA segueing into “Show Me Love” from her first album.

She was visibly giddy through her set, but especially so during the encores, shouting at the crowd, “If you know this song, sing along!”

And the entire club sang with her. Robyn’s appeal is not just that she makes music about love: she makes music about hearts. Broken hearts, mending hearts, indifferent hearts, yearning hearts, distracted and destructive hearts: all fall under her oeuvre, and her music moves all of them, both in part to her exhilarating voice and the danceability of her songs.

“We dance to the beat” of a pop star finally making a big global splash after more than a decade in the music business. With a collaboration with Snoop Dogg already under her belt, expect to hear more of Robyn – and soon.

Reach Lilian here.
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