Sunday, June 08, 2008

Robyn / Sam Sparro @ Birmingham Academy, Saturday 7th June 2008

After some good natured bantering with a smoker in the queue (which seemed to stretch halfway to the back of beyond...and back again) we got into the Academy and, for once, were served at the bar without a four hour wait. This could've been down to the fact that some of the audience seemed to be out for a bad time rather than the more conventional reasons for going to a gig (more of which later) but nonetheless it was appreciated. Oh, before I forget, big thanks to the Scottish bloke who serves behind the bar in the Square Peg (as if he'd ever read this, but hey, it's the thought that counts). As the big bag of Westons Scrumpy was coming to the end (it comes in a giant bag in a box...scrumptastic) he poured me a good pint and almost a half but only charged me for a pint. That's the third time in a month that I've got exceptional service from a Weatherspoons pub. Good on 'em.

Right. The music. Sam Sparro first. Half man, half bird and with a beak for a mouth he flew back and forth across the stage before laying an egg on a bald man's head. No. That's not right is it? Hmmmm. Blame the Westons. Ahhhh that's it. It's all coming back. He's an electro disco queen with a strangely soulful voice for a white dude, who makes the kind of tunes that would've been loved by drivers of Sierra Cosworths back in the 80's. So I was in hog heaven obviously. Shades of Prince in his most accessible purple patch, with a clutch bag full of hits including 'Black & Gold' (which apparently got to number 2 in 'the charts' recently), 'Pocket' and '21st Century Life', Sam was a camp disco treat. The audience seemed a little less enthusiastic, but I've kind of come to expect that from the Academy crowd. At points the volume of talking threatened to drown out the massive PA...short of some kind of mass slaughter there's not a great deal you can do about these kind of people though is there?

Onto the main event. Robyn. The single most important female artist of the last 20 years. Seriously. After leaving a big label a few years back she set up on her own and went on to release an album that's a true pop classic. With 'You Can't Handle Me', 'Be Mine' and, in a nod to the Godmother of Pop (Queen Madge), 'Who's That Girl', you've got three of the best pop tracks ever recorded. Of course we got them all tonight. Why this gig wasn't sold out I'll never know. Why the audience didn't seem more excited is even more of a mystery. I hate to harp on about the audience but the pair of wankers behind me came seriously close to a clout. I quote them pretty much word for word, "Sam Sparro's shit and Robyn's a spaz", "Yeah, she's a right spaz", "I dare you to shout 'Robyn's shite". At this I casually mentioned that I might break one of their noses and that seemed to do the trick. I don't advocate violence but unless those of us who are able to walk and talk at the same time take a stand the world is going to be taken over by dribbling fools who seem to be superglued to their mobile 'phones (what the hell are they texting to each other? has anyone not realised that the mindless drivel these people text to each other probably generates more carbon emissions than a whole fleet of 4 x 4's?). Anyway, I digress. Robyn was superb. The 'band' seemed a little pointless at times (I'm sure that a backing track did a lot of the work), but the lady herself was pure pop royalty. The inevitable highlight - and the reason Robyn deserves to be seen in a different league - was 'With Every Heartbeat', a beautiful song that I've seen quite a few people cover already (a sure sign of impending classic status). I've listened to it a hundred of times or so and still love it every bit as much as the first time and to see her Robyness do it's worth putting up with the mud dwellers.

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