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Review: Marina and the Diamonds at O2 Academy

20 February 2016
Review: Marina and the Diamonds at O2 Academy
Marina, flanked with her ‘diamonds’, was our queen of the O2 Academy on Wednesday night, four months into her Neon Nature tour. Three albums, three acts, three outfits, two thousand adoring subjects. Marina and the Diamonds took us on a synthpop journey down Mowgli’s Road, through the Valley of the Dolls until we finally became Savages.

A Marina and the Diamonds gig is never less than a spectacle. With each tour, Marina Lambrini Diamandis (she was born to perform with a name like that) has designed a show to embody the ethos of each album. The Electra Heart tour was her self-professed drag act, with over the top props (including a giant hamburger and pompoms) to accompany the blonde bombshell persona. This time around the Neon Nature show dedicated a section to each of her three brilliant albums creating three acts, and who doesn’t love a good trilogy?

First up, bringing the nostalgia, the show began with The Family Jewels, all the Diamonds veterans knowing every word. With her band on a balcony above the screens behind her, Marina glided around the stage in metallic pink lycra and jewelled mouse ears while the crowd couldn’t help but dance to the catchy beats and enchanting vocals. More than a few jaws dropped when we were treated to just her voice and the keyboard for the opening of Obsessions, and the song that sparked it all, Hollywood, didn’t even need Marina to sing; the audience was there with every line.

Electra Heart then came on stage, her pink cape flowing behind her, bringing the sass of a Heartbreaker and the angst of a Teen Idle. The staging really set the scene with the Marilyn Monroe-esque visuals displayed on the screens behind, lining us up for the special guest of Marilyn the robotic dog joining the stage for Primadonna, revisiting her performance from the Electra Heart tour. The setlist was perfectly planned to pique our interest, keeping the energy going with driving upbeat bangers like How to Be a Heartbreaker while dropping in the slower grooves like Lies. Again, it felt like we were effortlessly being taken on a journey through Marina’s creative personas, and it was glorious.

Marina and the Diamonds - Article 1

During the final costume change, the graphics on the screen showed a transformation of the image of Electra Heart into the Marina from the Froot era, rainbow colours on a black background. Simple yet vibrant. You could taste the froot-y excitement building and building until the room erupted as she appeared on the balcony with her band, high above us all as she should always be, in a blue sequined catsuit. Of course the ensemble also included a cape, and a crown of sequined cherries; the only thing befitting the queen that is Marina and the Diamonds. Froot set the mood and set everyone’s inhibitions free, the crowd alive with dancing, again showcasing the power of her performance. In between the hits from her latest album, we were treated to a truly beautiful cover of Cyndi Lauper’s True Colours, made haunting with the almost ethereal quality to Marina’s vocals, keeping every single heart in the room hooked. The same happened with Happy, the emotional but empowering lyrics – “I found what I’d been looking for in myself” – moving, even after the high energy show that preceded it.

As an artist, Marina and the Diamonds has always been very theatrical, from her music to her aesthetics, so it would seem only logical for her live shows to follow suit. The show is all about the costumes and the drama and the characters she brings to life on the stage. There is such an atmosphere created that would be at home on much bigger stages than the O2 Academy, but the experience as an audience member is so much more intense owing to the compact performance space. What was really impressive was her ability to make the small space work for her; screens the length of the stage backed her, with visuals in keeping with the themes of each album. The jungle effect behind her for Mowgli’s Road, the emoji-style graphics accompanying Froot – everything made it so much more than a group of people playing music to another group of people. It was a piece of art: a piece of art Marina and her Diamonds seemed to enjoy as much as the rest of us and a feat I could happily watch again and again.

By Kate Baldwin
Kate is a Volunteer Writer for Leeds Living covering events all across the city of Leeds, on topics such as eat/drink, retail therapy, music/dance and culture.
Photography provided by Mark Wheelwright