Photo gallery: Robyn performs at Marymoor Park
The trajectory of most concerts is pretty straightforward. A band intersperses old material with the new, and then plays its most popular song somewhere near the end of the show. It’s as much a part of the live-music experience as crowds and overpriced beer.
Swedish pop singer Robyn defied this convention at Marymoor Park on Thursday night. She played the hits early and ended the show with new, more-challenging material that she recorded with electronic production duo Röyksopp.
There was good reason for this. Robyn and Röyksopp are touring together in support of a collaborative EP, “Do It Again,” which is also the first official release from either artist in four years.
Thus, the show’s unusual structure: Röyksopp played first, Robyn performed solo and then both joined forces to close the night, sharing a six-piece backing band throughout.
For the closing set, Röyksopp and the band were dressed all in black, with shiny silver masks obscuring their faces. Their collaboration with Robyn was almost as memorable for the jarring black-and-white visuals behind the stage — rapid, dystopian loops of people in macabre costumes — as it was for the music.
The songs were more abstract and less melodic than anything on “Body Talk,” the 2010 album series that made Robyn a star. “Say It” featured a harsh, metallic dance beat and synthesized voices that sounded like robot pillow-talk; “Monument” was slow and funerary.
Much better was “Do It Again,” the sort of earworm, electro-pop banger Robyn fans have come to expect. Its lyrics self-consciously reference the builds and drops characteristic of electronic music. It was an appropriate highlight for a set that seemed to signal that, moving forward, Robyn is just as interested in electronic music as she is pop.
The emotional apex of the show came during Robyn’s solo set when she played “Call Your Girlfriend” and “Dancing on My Own” back to back. These songs are her two biggest hits, though they differ in sentiment: one’s about losing a lover; the other is about stealing a lover from someone else.
Both songs touch on the themes of self-empowerment and self-reliance that define Robyn’s music and make it resonate with so many people. It’s probably why the crowd — a diverse mix of teenage ravers, middle-age suburbanites and twenty-something women who arrived in party buses — sang along loudly to every word.