Robyn. Photo by Matthew Shelter
Sometimes things go viral online thanks to a healthy dose of cynicism, but there was none to be found last Saturday when following Swedish pop star Robyn’s show at Madison Square Garden in New York, fans held an impromptu afterparty while waiting for their trains at Penn Station.
It was a spontaneous, joyous reaction to the music. The fact that it was for Robyn – a pop star who has done her best to remain under the radar despite penning “Call Your Girlfriend” and “Dancing On My Own,” two of the most irresistible pop tunes of the last decade or so – and not a more regular chart topper made the moment all the more sweet.
With the singalong fresh in everyone’s mind, there was some added momentum for Robyn’s return to Montreal on Wednesday night. Of course, even a packed Metropolis doesn’t quite have the same effect as an arena of MSG’s size, but that didn’t stop the around 2,400 who came out for the Honey hitmaker from belting out their favourites with just as much gusto. It’s pretty clear that Robyn brings the party wherever she goes, and the connection her fans feel towards her music isn’t confined to public transport.
Robyn came out partially obscured by a white curtain covering the upper half of the stage, but a few songs later triumphantly pulled it down with one confident tug during “Be Mine!” from 2005’s eponymous comeback record. After that she stepped off stage in order to change from sparkling silver to all-black, while a flexible dancer held court. The all-white stage set-up – her backing band was dressed in mostly white, too – quickly flipped to hues of purple on “Between the Lines,” a highlight track from 2018’s Honey, her first solo release in eight years that finds her entering the unhurried Sade-phase of pop perfection.
Curiously enough, the nearly two-hour show did not build towards or culminate with “Dancing on My Own” or “Call Your Girlfriend.” They came towards the end of the pre-encore, and sure enough, the already buzzing crowd found another level for those. Robyn didn’t even have to sing the words to the former – she just watched in awe as the Montreal audience took care of the vocals for her, perhaps genuinely shocked at the reach of this song.
There were moments of pure thrilling pop, while there were also extended grooves that gave the night a club-like feel. Robyn and her dancer had a few synchronized moves prepared and appeared to be as swayed by the music as everyone else.
So even though there was no viral video-worthy celebration on the walk to St-Laurent metro station after the show, inside the venue there was all the singing and dancing one could ask for. ■