Over the weekend, several viral videos showed spontaneous dance parties erupting on New York City subway platforms as ecstatic crowds leaving Robyn’s Madison Square Garden show sang “Dancing on My Own” and “Hang With Me” one more time for the road. That spirit of getting lost in the moment and dancing one’s way to a better place — sans subway footage — was very much still present two nights later, when the Swedish pop star brought her Honey Tour to Boston’s House of Blues.
With her stage draped in diaphanous white material, Robyn’s set lasted maybe 100 minutes top to bottom. The streamlined performance was sequenced like a DJ might structure it, slowly building toward a big finish but with plenty of sizzling peaks and cool-off valleys between. Beginning with “Send to Robin Immediately” and the title track from the singer’s 2018 album Honey, Robyn — in her best Guilty Remnant white — stood nearly motionless for the duration of her first two songs, patiently moving out of the shadows to center stage while the tension built.
Things began to loosen up considerably once she launched into “Indestructible” from her Body Talk LP, the crowd roaring in approval and moving along as the singer gyrated her hips and flung her arms wide as if defending herself against an army of attackers. She followed that with “Hang With Me,” another Body Talk track, for one of those early set peaks and an enthusiastic crowd sing-along.
Dancing was a particular emphasis of this show, thanks largely to Robyn’s idiosyncratic style of movement. Navigating her band’s seamless transitions between songs, she added an almost interpretive element to her performance, using her stage risers to sit or kneeling to heighten drama. In other sections, as with “Because It’s in the Music” — prior to which she changed into an all-black outfit, her hair tied back with a ribbon — a male dancer joined her for extended routines that emphasized sensuality and had more than a touch of Hollywood musical-style choreography.
The soft-spoken entertainer, who didn’t say much more than “Boston, how are you?” or “Come on, Boston!” for the duration of the show, also played to her strengths as a singer. On tracks like “Honey” and “Because It’s in the Music,” she explored the softer nooks and crannies of her voice in a vulnerable whisper, while on some of her best-loved numbers like “Dancing on My Own,” the audience’s ability to handle her choruses gave her a little space to throw in some soulful ad libs.
In addition to the beloved songs from her three solo albums, Robyn’s set was also peppered with recent collaborations. Singer-rapper Maluca came out to dance and perform her parts on the pulsating “Love Is Free,” the 2015 recording billed under the moniker La Bagatelle Magique, while Robyn’s first encore of the evening began with the palate-cleansing dub of the Mr. Tophat recording “Trust Me.” For her final performance of the evening, Robyn sang a remixed version of “Who Do You Love,” a 2014 track she recorded with Kindness — the DJ who’s currently keeping energy levels up between sets by spinning an array of pop, hip-hop and dance tunes.
The night’s biggest moments of release were, of course, in the main set-concluding run that began with “Dancing on My Own,” during which she let the crowd sing an entire chorus without any accompaniment and paused for an extended, rapturous round of applause. She quickly strung that classic together with “Missing U” and “Call Your Girlfriend,” even replicating some of her floor-humping dance moves from the latter’s video as she rolled, backward, across the stage. Those moments, combining immaculate pop songs with emotional catharsis, signaled a way to let go and move forward, even after the music fades. All you have to do is press play again when you get home.
“Send to Robin Immediately”
“Hang With Me”
“Because It’s in the Music”
“Between the Lines”
“Love Is Free” (feat. Maluca)
“Don’t Fucking Tell Me What to Do”
“Dancing on My Own”
“Call Your Girlfriend”
“With Every Heartbeat”
“Who Do You Love”