She is the pop star who came in from the cold.
Robyn Carlsson was a minor Euro-dance act while still in her teens, best known for the 1997 hit "Show Me Love", she was staring down the barrel of a life as a washed-up has-been with, at best, parochial appeal in her native Sweden when she reinvented herself as a house-trained, pop-friendly Peaches with an armoury of deadly hooks up her sleeve, and ended up having No 1 singles (as well as the kind of credibility and coolness factor her younger self could never have dreamed of).
It's already a fantastic story. How the comeback queen of Scandypop keeps the comeback going is another thing altogether, and she's displayed the same kind of audacity she showed in 2005 with the game-changing, zeitgeist-grabbing Robyn album. Why fret about the difficult follow-up album when you can release three? That's what she's done with the Body Talk trilogy, each part of which can boast a cynic-crushingly high consistency of quality.
The way she comes out of the traps tonight, you can tell she knows she's won. This is, without question, one of the best all-killer-no-filler pop shows I've seen in years.
With a haircut that recalls the young Toyah Wilcox, she's wearing leggings with a roses and warplanes print, and a bizarre bomber jacket and apron contraption (which she gradually strips off till she's down to a black sports bra). Aggression and beauty, domesticity and danger, that's the ambiguous tightrope she walks, and that's why she has such a following in Brighton. Straight she may be, but Robyn, throwing martial arts shapes and effortlessly dominating the room, is an A-list dykon. She's got that vibe.
The new material, like the faux-sweet "Fembot" and the hilariously stroppy "Don't Fucking Tell Me What To Do", with its list of things that are "killing me" (drinking, smoking, diet, heels, shopping, ego ...), mixes seamlessly with the old, represented by her ridiculously catchy cover of Teddybears' "Cobrastyle" and the formidable frontin' of "Konichiwa Bitches".
Then, of course, there are the many collaborations. All-conquering Kleerup smash "With Every Heartbeat", Holy Bible-referencing Christian Falk hook-up "Dream On" ("freaks and junkies, fakes and phonies, drunks and cowards, manic preachers ..."), and Royksopp's "The Girl And The Robot" which, with its unmistakable "Gimme Gimme Gimme" feel, nods to her Swedish pop heritage. She even throws a verse of "Dancing Queen" into a stripped-down encore of that teenage hit, "Show Me Love".
Towering over them all, though, is the crying-in-the-discotheque epic "Dancing On My Own". Hearing that song live, steamrollered by its shuddering synth bassline, is my most emotionally transporting pop moment of 2010. Somewhere behind that pixie-ish and pugnacious façade lies true pop genius.
Walk into a Professor Green gig at the wrong moment and you could come away with completely the wrong impression. The moment, for instance, that the east London MC launches into an extended covers medley of A Tribe Called Quest's "Can I Kick It", Dizzee's "Fix Up Look Sharp" and that bloody "Billionaire" song. Give him a chance, and he's better than that. Then again, maybe his shamelessness is excusable. After all, his route to the top wasn't the most straightforward. Originally signed to Mike Skinner's The Beats label, his rap career seemed to have evaporated when the backing was pulled, leaving him to go back to what he knew best: mucking around on pirate radio and earning a few quid as a freelance purveyor of herbal products (hence his stage name).
Virgin rescued him from the scrapheap in 2009, so you can't blame him for taking the route-one approach to radio play – if only we didn't have to listen to the results all day long. In less cheesily commercial moments, he's a talent not to be sniffed at. Take "Jungle", the chillingly believable account of his native Hackney: "It's wild round 'ere, you don't wanna spend a night round 'ere/When your out here in this jungle, ain't nothing nice round 'ere..."
In rap, the perception of authenticity is everything, and Green's is helped by a raised, V-shaped scar on his jawline, right next to a (pre-existing) tattoo which reads "Lucky". Given that vital arteries were missed, he was. It's the result of a nightclub incident last year, and today he's come straight from the resulting court case. I'm sure he'd rather he didn't have it, but it undeniably gives him an edge.
In his skull T-shirt, using gunfire as percussion, representing for Upper Clapton to a crowd who wouldn't know it from Lower Clacton, Green lays it on thick. The illusion is ruined slightly by support act and encores sidekick Ed Drewett, a singer-songwriter who first came to attention as a contestant on Any Dream Will Do, and who, in his bright scarlet jacket and slicked back Hitler Jugend hair, looks like a Butlin's Redcoat given a disastrous "hip hop" image overhaul.
The quality just about outshines the naffness, and he doesn't depart without one last shot. "Monster" may kick off with a sample of Vincent Price's demented cackle from Jacko's "Thriller", but the most jaw-dropping, "did-you-hear-that?" moment is pure Prof Green: "Before I go, I'd like to say thanks to Peter Andre for looking after my children...."
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