Robyn kicks off American tour at the Paradise

A review of Robyn at the Paradise Rock Club on April 29, 2008

, Staff Writer

Some shows are special. Robyn’s show at the Paradise on Tuesday, the night that her long awaited album finally hit American shores, was one of those shows. For one frantic hour the crowd made it their mission to let Robyn know how much they loved her, and Robyn made it her mission to get everyone in the house dancing.

Playing the songs from Robyn is enough to get any crowd moving, but Robyn and her band, two drummers and a keyboard player, did much more than just serve up electronic tracks from a laptop, bringing the synthesized sounds to life while maintaining mechanical precision.

Robyn was of course star of the show, her asymmetrical bob countered by an asymmetrical shirt, lending an air of sophistication to the frontwoman. The set began with the Radiohead drum breaks of the seething “Cobrastyle” as Robyn got a feel for the venue, dancing around stage hesitantly and testing the waters. Then she counted off “1, 2, 1, 2, 3, 4” and proceeded to up the energy level and freak out all across the stage. The song ended and the crowd began the love fest with a sustained ovation, clearly glad to have Robyn in the house.

Next up was “Crash and Burn Girl” with it’s can’t help but dance stomp and excellent rhythmic interplay between the beat and the vocals. “Who’s That Girl” was heavy with cough syrup-thick keys, and the fact that the crowd was singing along so loudly proved that some of the people didn’t wait the three years or so it took to get Robyn’s songs to the US. She responded, saying, “Wow! We just came over from Sweden, and it’s very nice to get a reception like this.”

The band worked through a few teasers, some rap from Robyn, a spot-on but all too brief recreation of Salt-n-Pepa’s “Push It”, and Snoop Dogg’s “Sexual Eruption”, all leading up to the electronic blips and booming bass of “Konichiwa Bitches”. The petite blonde Swede battle rapped an imaginary opponent, delivering boastful wordplay like my personal favorite, “I’m so very hot that when I rob your mansion / You won’t call the cops you’ll call the fire station.” Exit song, enter rousing cheers from the audience.

“Handle Me” played like it could be the singer’s next pop hit, except maybe for the part where she calls the man in question a “selfish narcissistic psycho-freaking bootlicking Nazi creep.” That line alone is enough proof that Robyn is making her music on her own terms, part of the reason that the crowd was so appreciative.

Things slowed down for the piano ballad “Eclipse”, and a rapt Paradise kept silent as Robyn delivered a perfect rendition, complete with massive dynamic shifts and a loosely defined rhythm that served to heighten the drama and emotion. “Bum Like You” brought the tempo back up with it’s slinky, toxic feel.

Robyn was all smiles after “Be Mine”, saying, “This is crazy! A little while ago I didn’t even know there were people here who liked what I do. It’s true.” She then treated the crowd to a song most hadn’t already heard via a file-sharing network, the US-release only club mover “Dream On” and it’s infectious backbeat.& The main set ended with the Daft Punk-four on the floor of “With Every Heartbeat”, and after giving a heart sign to the crowd, Robyn left the stage. &

She would return for a run through her first hit “Show Me Love” along with her keyboard player and drummer. Predictably it was not the same version that she released as an 18 year old pop sensation. The music this time around came from sparse keyboards and an electronic drum kit, but the melody and the audience participation carried the song along. The new version isn’t sugar coated, but it’s still plenty sweet.

A punkabilly run through the bonus track “Jack U Off” ended the first encore on a playful note, and the band was soon back for another oldie, “Keep This Fire Burning”. Robyn ended the night with “Be Mine” again, but this time taking it as an aching ballad. &

Robyn, freed from the expectations of a record label, has made an album on her own terms that is a triumph of pop music. That it’s taken so long for Robyn to formally make it to America is a shame, but Tuesday night was proof that many people didn’t wait for the official release to take notice. It was a unique night for those who knew about the music Robyn was making in Sweden, a chance to show their support and thanks for an artist with integrity and plenty of skills. Some shows are special.

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