Röyksopp & Robyn

Echo Beach, Toronto ON, August 25

Röyksopp & RobynEcho Beach, Toronto ON, August 25
Photo: Lucia Graca
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Robyn embraced a more abstract approach on her recent collaboration with Norwegian electronic duo Röyksopp. So with both acts touring together, would fans get the hedonistic dancehall queen the Swedish singer built her rep on? Or something more cerebral?

Svein Berge and Torbjørn Brundtland, who together comprise Röyksopp, took the stage amidst a wall of smoke and lights. Low-key Senior track "The Drug" kicked things off before the duo brought out opening act Zhala. She filled in for Karin Dreijer Andersson from the now-defunct the Knife on "What Else is There?" and "This Must be It." Zhala, who Robyn later compared to Whitney Houston, wisely avoided mimicking the iconoclastic singer and made the tunes her own.

Their set continued like this, deftly balancing dance floor-minded jams with more pop-oriented numbers. They reached back to Melody A.M. for nuggets "Remind Me" and "Poor Leno," presented in drastically reworked versions thanks to a crack seven-piece band that included two drummers and a sax player before ceding the stage to Robyn without a break in between.

While Röyksopp certainly generated plenty of accolades from the crowd, it was Robyn who most people came to see. Walking on stage in thigh-high boots, silver boxing shorts and a fluorescent yellow jumper, she started singing the opening lines to "Be Mine."

While it's good to see older gems like this still in her set, it was clear Robyn's mind was firmly on the present. "We're playing new songs tonight," she said. "Go with it."

New tracks like "Work It Out" suggest a move away from Body Talk's pure-pop bliss but were firmly routed in the electronic structures she explored with Röyksopp.

The crowd were on board for this shift but were far more enthusiastic for familiar territory like "Call Your Girlfriend," and "Indestructible," even if new live arrangements tempered Robyn's usually manic energy on the stage. But nothing rivalled the sing-along chorus of "Dancing on My Own," during which the band dropped out and left the audience loudly filling in.

"With Every Heartbeat" closed Robyn's set and brought another shift in tone for the night. She re-emerged in an oversized denim jacket backed by Berge and Brundtland clad in sequined facemasks. The harrowing industrial pulse of "Sayit" was totally incongruous with what the audience had witnessed thus far, but the material from Do It Again, as well as the two artists' original collaboration, "The Girl and the Robot," were brought to vivid life on the stage as Robyn writhed and thrusted her pelvis from a platform mid-stage. Things were finally brought back to earth for the EP's title track, complete with confetti cannons, before re-emerging one last time for Robyn's "None of Dem."

Like the best collaborations, Robyn and Röyksopp's current tour brings out new sides of each act. And while that might not jive completely with old fans, it's thrilling to watch artists at the top of their game clearly following their muses.
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