Madonna. Britney. Marina. Indeed, British pop princess Marina Diamandis has earned her place in that list among the world’s premier female pop stars. A glorious, sparkling diva, she is every bit the archetypal mesmerizing songstress. Her act, Marina & the Diamonds, may in fact prove to be even better than those of past pop heroines, as it’s only two albums in and showing all the signs of immense musical maturity and popular appeal. One need only catch her live performance to see that this is true.
It takes a very special artist to send electric currents flying through a room by simply walking into it. Clad in a bridal veil and a two-piece, ’50s-inspired dress, Marina glided center stage at The Fillmore in San Francisco, drawing all eyes toward her. Touring on the back of her latest album, Electra Heart, she opened appropriately with eccentric new track “Homewrecker,” delivered with gusto and stupendous vocals. And when she tossed a fistful of glitter into the crowd during the song’s one-word, eponymous chorus, the Marina frenzy began in earnest. In an instant, she had the entire audience wrapped around her finger, ready to proclaim its love for her.
Was this a piece of creativity or a cheap draw-in? Pop stars have long been criticized as attention-seekers, using gimmicks to produce instant thrills. Marina, however, embraces this image rather than evading it. From her showy dresses to her stage setup, which included a velvety couch, a coat hanger and a martini glass, she embodied one word above all others: Primadonna (not-so-incidentally the title of her latest single). At one point, she even donned a sash with the words “Ms. Shellfish Beach” (say it quickly). By refusing to shy away from pop-star stereotypes, Marina becomes even more loveable as she gives the people what they want.
Still, none of this would hold clout were it not for Marina’s enormous talent. The concert was a phenomenal singing exhibition, a lesson for all the other pop singers whose vocals fall painfully flat (a Ms. Del Rey comes to mind). Marina outdid herself on “I Am Not A Robot,” hitting every note with supreme confidence and vocal power. During “Teen Idle,” her voice meandered flawlessly through a charming melody sang over a pleasant acoustic arrangement. It is this level of talent that places Marina & the Diamonds a league above all other pop icons currently vying for popularity.
Marina is also unique in that despite portraying all the hallmarks of an egotistic pop star, she is anything but self-absorbed. It is clear that these elements are only part of her act and not part of her personality. Throughout the concert, she related to audience members effortlessly, thanking them profusely for their enthusiastic support. Between songs, she could be heard saying “I can’t believe this is my job” and asking fans to “show her around town” after the gig. Underneath her commanding stage persona, there was a cute, genuine Marina, who seemed to appreciate her fans as much as they did her.
From a purely musical standpoint, the night saw a top-notch set drawing heavily from Electra Heart, reflecting the quality of Marina & the Diamonds’ new record. Moreover, openers MS MR were sharp and upbeat, setting up a buoyant atmosphere for the remainder of the show. Their songs and Marina’s translated extremely well into the live setup — a rare phenomenon in the pop music landscape. If live shows are any indication of an artist’s class, Marina ranks right at the top and is surely destined for a diamond-encrusted future.
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