Playing the Commodore Ballroom on Sunday night, Marina and the Diamonds brought unmatched energy to fanatical Vancouver fans and got the crowd dancing.
Marina and the Diamonds have long been a force to be reckoned with in the United Kingdom. The product of singer/songwriter Marina Diamandis, Marina and the Diamonds was conceived in 2005, with the first self-released EP being released in late 2007. Her big break came in 2010, when she placed second to Ellie Goulding in the BBC’s Sound of 2010 poll and released her much-hyped debut album, The Family Jewels. After extensive touring on that album, which was an indie-pop sensation, she took time off to write its follow-up. First released in April of this year, Electra Heart took Marina’s unique voice and gift for songwriting and placed it amongst a decidedly more electropop sound. The album had a much clearer concept as well, focusing on the concepts of rejection, love, isolation, lust, power and more through the titular character (Electra Heart), a cold-hearted but empowered individual. The songs on the album also deal with various archetypes of the female personality that Marina decided to draw attention to. The album debuted strongly, reaching number one in the UK, Scotland and Ireland. Two and a half months later, the album was finally released in North America on July 10th.
Fittingly, Marina and her band celebrated the end of Electra Heart‘s first week on sale in North America with an incredible show at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver. Opener MS MR brought the house down with some powerfully glam tunes. The Brooklyn-based group seemed grateful to share the stage with Marina and the Diamonds and thrived off the building energy of the crowd. My friends and I agreed that the lead singer looked like a cross between Ellie Goulding and Florence Welch (of Florence + the Machine), and her stage presence was dynamic. The group played through a set that lasted roughly 35 minutes, with their song “Bones” being one of the highlights. Ending with first single “Hurricane”, the group commanded the attention of the venue effortlessly. Their music was an interesting combination of indie pop and electronic music, which the band itself has deemed “Tumblr Glitch Pop.” Definitely check these guys out if you want to hear something fresh.
Just after 10pm, the lights dimmed once more and Marina’s band started coming out and getting set for what was about to go down. Emerging soon after, adorned with a wedding veil, she kicked off the show with the spoken word verses and bombastic chorus of “Homewrecker”. Ditching the veil in exchange for some red glasses, Marina got the crowd going with The Family Jewels favourites “Oh No!” and “Mowgli’s Road”, the latter eliciting many sing-alongs to the glee of concertgoers. The affecting and powerful ballad “Lies” followed, which Marina declared perfect for a “depressing singles Sunday night.” These slower numbers really display Marina’s powerful, yet unique vocals, and the crowd was spellbound. She then dug into her back catalogue once more for the popular “I Am Not A Robot.” “The State of Dreaming” was perfect, with the lazy verses and energetic chorus contrasting each other well.
At this point, Marina left the stage for a costume change. Re-emerging soon after in a stunning pink dress, she launched into the second UK single from Electra Heart, “Power & Control”, which has all the makings of a hit song. There is something quite sincere and intriguing when she laments, “Yeah, you may be good looking, but you’re not a piece of art.” Donning a sash emblazoned “Miss Shellfish Beach” (very clever), the utter pop goodness that is “Bubblegum Bitch” had the entire crowd going nuts as Marina bounced off the walls to what she calls one of her favourite tracks. One of my favourite tracks off the latest album, “Starring Role”, sounded spectacular in the live setting and the crowd sang their lungs out to “Obsessions” and indulged in the old-school pop of “Hypocrates.”
Introducing the audience to the very popular Marilyn, her toy dog that starred in the “Primadonna” music video, Marina hammed it up with the audience and came across as very down-to-earth and endearing, while the song itself was even better live than the excellent studio track. Next single “How To Be A Heartbreaker” was one of the best performances of the night, as a new track for the North American edition of Electra Heart. The crowd, many of which (myself included) having put a small black heart on their cheek like Marina, sounded like they had heard the track a million times as Marina sang, “Rule number three: wear your heart on your cheek.” The main set came to a close with promotional single “Radioactive”, which should have been a smash hit upon its release.
Coming back for an encore, after much applause and chants of “Electra Heart”, Marina emerged solo and played “Teen Idle” acoustically on the keyboard. The encore continued on a very downtrodden note with “Fear and Loathing”, a haunting and reflective song that ends the standard edition of Electra Heart. Things picked up for the conclusion as Marina, pom-pom and over-sized plastic hamburger in hand, had the crowd jumping and singing along to the American Dream-mocking “Hollywood”, which is one of her most loved songs by fans. It was the perfectly upbeat ending to a concert that took audiences on a complete journey.
All in all, this was definitely one of the best concerts I have been to, and I have been to a lot. Marina’s stage presence is second to none, her vocals shine in the live setting, and her dynamic with both her band and the audience is always incredible. The staging was also fantastic, with a coat hanger holding her sash, a lounge chair and a flickering “Electra Heart” sign in the back. Having promised the crowd to be back in 2013, I am excited for what is to come and will be first in line to buy a ticket when Marina and the Diamonds make their return to Vancouver. Check out the setlist below and a few videos I managed to film at the show. If any of this sounded intriguing, definitely check out her other tracks on YouTube or pick up her albums The Family Jewels and Electra Heart. Any pop music fans are sure to find something to love with Marina and the Diamonds.
I Am Not A Robot
The State of Dreaming
Power & Control
How To Be A Heartbreaker
Fear and Loathing
All images are my own.
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