Published Jan 27, 2011Robyn's self-directed reinvention finally seemed complete last year, when she unleashed her excellent Body Talk full-length. The album closed the book on her transformation from late '90s teen-pop star into Euro-disco diva, embraced by indie-minded hipsters and, if her Toronto gigs are any indication, the gay community as a whole.
But as her star re-emerged on the pop-culture landscape, Robyn seemed to find herself right back where she started. Last fall, the Swede appeared on teen-drama phenom Gossip Girl, while she will be playing warm-up act to teen-pop sensation Katy Perry across North America this summer, playing some of the very same venues she turned her back on over a decade ago. So in reclaiming her image, has Robyn simply come full circle?
Her rescheduled performance at Toronto's Sound Academy would suggest not. Drawing heavily on the dance-floor fillers that populate Body Talk, Robyn proceeded to throw down the gauntlet for all subsequent pop shows that role through town, swinging, dancing and twirling her way into the hearts of the sold-out audience who cheered her every move.
Robyn fills her songs with heartfelt emotion, giving her listeners an actual piece of herself as opposed to a manufactured version. Similarly, onstage Robyn gives a piece of herself to her audience and, in turn, feeds off their energy in a performance that is neither hindered by the shallowness of a singer like Perry or the choreographed and distracting spectacle of Lady Gaga.
Her exuberant personality won over even the most casual fans in attendance, as she had the entire bar dancing along to her three-piece band (her second drummer was mysteriously absent), who were decked out in white lab coats. Throughout the 90-minute set, the singer never wavered in her energy levels, stalking the stage with a determination that rivals Mick Jagger, grinding the air and generally defying physics with her flexibility and dance moves in a pair of impossibly huge platform shoes.
Whatever Robyn has in store for the future, it's clear that she continues to occupy the driver's seat of her own career. While she may continue to flirt with the mainstream she once abandoned, these dalliances are on her terms. If Robyn decides to move away from the fan base whose fervent adoration helped spread word of her resurrection, it will be of her own volition.