15 Mar 2010: Le Poisson Rouge New York
This may have been only the second night of Welsh-born Marina Diamandis’ first stateside tour, but she is already a superstar in the eyes of her US fans. Although Marina pulled a lot of crowd-tempting trickery throughout her 45-minute set, there was little need; the audience was chanting her name before she even took the stage. Thus, her superstar stage entrance—popping in after her band had started playing—came off as fitting, not ludicrous.
Before Marina came out to cheers and adulation, her four band mates—interchangeable boys who looked like escapees from a hipster harvesting plant—took the stage and launched into “Girls”, from the forthcoming (that is, if you’re American and not into buying imports) The Family Jewels. On record, the song has No Doubt undertones. Live, however, it was turned into something a whole lot stranger. The music was given a big tent edge, over which Marina performed some vocal acrobatics, contorting her voice until it hovered close to Lene Lovich territory.
Vocal prowess alone made it obvious that Marina was well equipped to command the packed room of enthusiastic girls, boys, and couples, and to sell those on the verge of conversion on Diamondhood. Even when she sat at the keyboards for two songs (“Numb” and “Obsessions”, ballads that, thanks again to the live setting, were infused with a bit more strangeness than their recorded forms) the energy remained, the audience rapt by Marina’s unpredictable vocals and genuine gorgeousness; even in a simple black tank top and brown mini-skirt, she looked the picture of otherworldly glamour.
The real firecracker in the set was also Marina’s purest pop moment. Her most recent single “Hollywood” was met with applause within its opening seconds, the crowd growing more and more enamored as the song built to the line, “Oh my God, you look just like Shakira / No no, you’re Catherine Zeta / Actually, my name’s Marina,” a somewhat cringe-worthy lyric that Marina hammed to the hilt live.
Before leaving the stage, Marina, in another display of performance sureness and poise, told the crowd that they were better than her London audiences. After the pulsing “Guilty”, the band returned for a one song encore, “Mowgli’s Road”. In the time that passed between the final song in the regular set and the beginning of the encore, Marina seemingly had time to skin a Pikachu, as she took the stage in the cape-like skins of that famous naught trend.
So, who wouldn’t want to role with this sort of diva, the type of girl who possesses both exotic beauty and a desire to steer things down the path of A Little Bit Odd before we all get too comfortable? Those who are jealous of prodigies, Marina is a mere 24 years old. Those who don’t buy into theatrics Marina is an engaging performer, whether you like her brand of slightly left of center pop or not (and I’m speaking for myself here; she’s fun live but her recorded material grates). For good measure, Pokémon activists should probably be kept in the dark too. Haters of beauty and off-center pop with just a whiff of artiness, take heed: jam your ears with gigantic tufts of cotton and look the other way, because Marina has arrived.
I Am Not a Robot