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‘Baby forgive me…’
With those words Robyn, queen of Swedish music, opened one of the greatest nights of my life.
After an eight year hiatus, Robyn returned to Alexandra Palace for a bumper 21 song set supported by two DJ sets from Zhala and Kindness. Despite being a lifelong fan of Robyn, I admit I had forgotten quite how many songs she had, and how many emotions a human can have in one night. My friends and I arrived at the venue an hour before doors to a smaller-than-expected queue, and stood our ground in third row, refusing the unexpected food vendors and entertainment pre-show in the Ally Pally reception area: we meant business, and we were determined to be as close to the pop sensation as possible, even if did mean standing and waiting for 5 hours.
The support acts were wonderful in their different ways: DJ sets at live gigs are a risky move, but both artists handled the stage with expertise. The ethereal fusion of genres set the vibe for the night, and by the time Robyn was due to appear, the 10,000 or so fans who’d travelled long and far were ready.
The stage was beautiful: white hanging drapes, a grand sculpture of a white hand and bright light pouring in. Robyn was accompanied by a band, each also dressed in all white, and a single dancer, who moved as if he was possessed by the music.
The tour was for her latest album Honey, released to 4 and 5 star reviews across the board last October. Honey featured heavily on the setlist with 8 out of the 9 songs on the album being played, alongside classic Robyn hits such as ‘With Every Heartbeat’.
The show opened with ‘Send to Robin Immediately’, a perfect introductory track. The band arrived first, and she almost glided on, high on the euphoric atmosphere. One of the particularly moving moments was at the beginning of ‘Dancing On My Own’, Robyn’s most well known song, on the first chorus when she took a step back to watch everybody sing. It’s a cliched moment in any concert when the singer stops, and steps back to listen, but this hit me hard.
The night was a mixture of dance tracks, emotional moments and the best live singing I’ve ever heard. She didn’t stop moving for the entire set, accompanied at times by a dancer, but energetic always. ‘Love Is Free’ was a highlight, as well as ‘Ever Again’. I’d have gone back the next night to do it all again if it hadn’t been sold out. After two encores, the night was over. It was the most exhilarating night of my life.
Many referred to this concert as a ‘comeback tour’ – it was a comeback in the terms that Robyn was back in the UK, but this was certainly no money-making feat. The essence of Robyn is that she doesn’t need a comeback. She never left, even when she stopped touring. This tour solidified her status as one of the greatest singers and stars of our time, and as continually underrated.