Sweden's new dancing queen

  • Article by: CHRIS RIEMENSCHNEIDER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 15, 2010 - 1:45 PM

Robyn brazenly completed her transformation from teen-pop star to edgy electronic heroine with a fiery, packed set Sunday at the Fine Line.

It was obvious even before her first Swedish-accented "Hello" just how well Sunday's packed audience at the Fine Line knew Robyn and her music. Fans probably would have danced right through the floors of the downtown Minneapolis club if they hadn't also been so busy singing along to each of the dance-pop star's jilted, down-but-not-out love songs.

It wasn't until the second encore, though, that Stockholm-reared singer Robin Carlsson proved how well she knew the audience.

She did so with two lovingly chosen, cleverly re-created cover songs: a tender and nearly a cappella verse and chorus of Abba's "Dancing Queen," preceded by a hard-thumping tear through Prince's "When Doves Cry." There wasn't a dry eye -- or at least a dry armpit -- in the room after that.

A heavily hyped concert that immediately sold out, Sunday's 85-minute set harked back to Lady Gaga's 2009 Fine Line gig -- except the crowd in this case tilted more toward gay males than Top 40 girls, and it felt more Euro-disco underground than Upper East Side high-rise.

Had Robyn thrown in a Madonna hit, an obscure Erasure or Yaz gem and a straight-up Daft Punk jam, she would have exposed more of the formula behind her relatively unoriginal but totally soulful and infectious brand of electronic pop.

Taking the stage in a zipped-up, punked-out bomber jacket that never could've lasted in the overheated club, the Prince-sized 31-year-old immediately burst into a fireball of energy. She opened with her robotic hit "Fembot" and followed it with the poppier gem "Cry When You Get Older" -- both from her first of three 2010 albums, "Body Talk, Pt. 1," which completed her transformation from a former teen-pop star into this year's unlikely dance-floor heroine.

Stripping off the jacket to a tight, belly-cropped Lycra top (no Gaga-esque stripper gear here), Robyn broke out some fast and furious dance moves for "Cobrastyle" that her martial-arts-wielding fiancé might have taught her. She then bowled over the crowd with her masterpiece "Dancing on My Own," which proves how well she can pull off sexy, upbeat pop with smart, dark undertones.

The rest of the show bounced between those kind of poppy, don't-mess-with-me anthems ("Indestructible," "With Every Heartbeat") and the more grinding digi-romps ("The Girl and the Robot," "Don't [Expletive] Tell Me What to Do"). With the club's small stage and poor sightlines, many fans did not even notice that Robyn had two drummers working hard behind her instead of pre-recorded dance beats -- although she did employ plenty of pre-recorded backing vocals. She also had two giant pinwheels for stage decor, but they proved more valuable for ventilation.

Fans were exiting in total satisfaction when Robyn unexpectedly reappeared for the second encore, urging of Prince, "If you see him, tell him I love him." The only more fitting finale would have been if she had instead sang "Baby, I'm a Star."

See Robyn's full set list at startribune.com/artcetera chrisr@startribune.com • 612-673-4658

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