“There is a split second of stillness before the song kicks back in and the crowd go off. It’s a Friday night and it feels like the people here need this…” We went to see Robyn at Alexandra Palace on Friday 12th April 2019.
There is a moment during the Robyn show where the pulsating beat of ‘Dancing On My Own’ suddenly stops and, without missing a beat, the whole of Alexandra Palace sing the chorus back to her. 10,000 voices roaring a song that has become something more than Robyn, more than a song in some ways.
It’s joyfully spine tingling, and almost overwhelming for her. She clearly finds it hard to take it in as she stands there motionless, just absorbing the noise. Noticeably emotional she stands in silence, tears running down her cheeks. There is a split second of stillness before the song kicks back in and the crowd go off. It’s a Friday night and it feels like the people here need this.
And maybe Robyn does too. This is her first show in London for eight years and it feels like the singer perhaps realises the impact she has on the lives of people in this room, as well as a realisation of her place at the apex of pop.
A feeling of anticipation has been buzzing around the venue the whole evening and during the ebb and flow of the next two hours there is a joyful energy that radiates through the crowd, and Robyn proves herself to be a master of her craft.
“You can tell she’s enjoying herself. During ‘Don’t Fucking Tell Me What To Do’ she gallops around like a horse while dressed like a matador.”
It starts without her even being on the stage until the beat kicks in to ‘Send to Robin Immediately’. From that moment on Robyn – dressed in a silver slip with stick-on diamante nipples – commands the crowd as she moves on to ‘Honey’, the title track from last year’s layered, Balearic record.
Dry ice floods the stage and an almost-not-there-gauze flutters over her and the dancers. ‘Ever Again’ matches it, breathy and feather-like. She changes into a blood red matador suit, flashing the crowd a smile. You can tell she’s enjoying herself. During ‘Don’t Fucking Tell Me What To Do’ she gallops around like a horse while dressed like a matador.
Sadness and joy weave themselves through the songs and the run of ‘Dancing on My Own’ into ‘Missing U’ into ‘Call Your Girlfriend’ is breathtaking, a knock out blow that any musician would want to call their own.
But where do you go from there? There’s the tender yet overcharged anthem ‘With Every Heartbeat’. There’s something in the way that Robyn sings the questions lines that makes her sound both heartbroken and hopeful. There are 2 (two) encores. The show’s ebbs and flows becoming slower and gentle, the second encore of ‘Human Being’ and a cover of Kindness’ Who Do You Love? sees the tempo drop, the mania the night has brought on sedated slightly.
This is Robyn’s night, built up over years. An artist who has plotted her own path enjoying the pleasure of tonight and the journey it’s taken to get here. There is no one like Robyn.