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Robyn at Venue

Robyn at the Venue, Vancouver, Nov 19 2010. Ashley Tanasiychuk photo.

Review and photos – Robyn at Venue, Vancouver, Nov 19 2010

– review by Shawn Conner/photos by Ashley Tanasiychuk

The two guys in line behind me outside Venue last night before the Robyn show were having an intense discussion about Lady Gaga’s first Vancouver appearance. “She was high,” said one of the guys, who had witnessed the Richard’s on Richards show – which had followed a set opening for a boy band, maybe New Kids on the Block. “And she was swearing. She played five songs and left the stage.”

There were no diva-type antics for Robyn. The Swedish singer, who has remade herself from Top-40 pop tart to dancing queen, gave a full-on performance that left you confident that, should this music thing not work out, she’s got a rewarding career as an aerobics instructor ahead of her. Not only did she pump out the energy, and show off some rockin’ dance moves – not to mention a stage-dive and crowd-surfing – but she played an hour-plus set along with two encores.

The reputation of Vancouver audiences as staid certainly didn’t hold true for this show; people – mostly men, as it turned out, and probably gay – gave as good as they got, throwing their arms out at Robyn and singing along to the bigger (i.e. not-quite-yet-radio-hits, but soon) tracks like “Konichiwa Bitches” (in the encore) and “Dancing On My Own” (her current North American calling card, and a song I keep wanting to call “Dancing By Myself”).

The show had its lulls, particularly in the middle when she and her band – two keyboardists and two drummers – took things in a generic dance direction for a few minutes. And purists might wonder how much of her voice we were hearing, and how much was double-tracked and pre-recorded (it was as though, as a friend said, three Robyns were singing at once). But the highs, like the opening gambit of “Fembots” and “Cry When You Get Older”, were mighty, and when the show ended (it was an early one, to make room for the downtown weekend crowd) people couldn’t stop dancing.

One surprise: Venue has become somewhat famous for its behind-the-stage LED screen, on which the names of the performers are flashed. But the singer opted for her own backdrop, with a stylized version of her name on it, which kind of went with the cute little bodysuit with wraparound frills she wore.

Maybe it’s like her song says, and no one really is telling her what to do.

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