It’s a Monday night at Warehouse Live in Houston, TX. “I’m not that innocent!” sings a crowd of at least 300 as Britney Spears’ “Oops! I Did It Again’ fades over the house speakers. One can barely make out the “Electra Heart” neon sign, which has yet to illuminate, positioned near the back of the stage. Pink lights shine overhead. Welcome to the world of Marina Lambrini Diamandis AKA Marina and the Diamonds.
Marina and the Diamonds somewhat skyrocketed to fame in the UK in 2010 when her debut LP “The Family Jewels” was released. And just so everyone is clear, yes Marina and the Diamonds is one person (She’s Marina, we are the diamonds), so don’t get confused. Standout singles from her debut album, “I Am Not a Robot” and “Hollywood”, cemented Marina as a true pop starlet in the making. Marina was set to conquer the world.
So here we are, two years later, and a good seven months after the release of her sophomore disc, “Electra Heart”. The crowd is waiting with anticipation. Hearts are drawn on cheeks (it is rule number three, after all; see How To Be A Heartbreaker). Everyone is ready to party. Good thing Icona Pop is the opening band. As Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo take the stage, no one really knows what to expect. Who are these girls? Why is there a table full of synths on stage? Is deadmau5 here? The girls mix all their music live and as “Manners” starts echoing, the magic begins. Seeing electronic music adroitly performed live is something everyone needs to experience to totally appreciate the genre. It was incredible how the girls moved back and forth between mixers and mics, perfecting and engaging with their 6-song set as if it was one long track.
As “I Love It” concludes and the dust settles, the girls exit stage left, thank America for everything and blow kisses to the audience. Everyone is in love, and that wasn’t even the main attraction. Marina is about to take the stage. As the lights go down, everyone cheers, waiting for what could be the show of a lifetime. Ominous music plays and low lights wander aimlessly across the venue. With a loud flicker, “ELECTRA HEART” lights up the stage in pink. Cheering erupts. The band enters and begins to play. Just then, a shadowy figure begins to walk on stage from the back. The audience can barely make out a wedding veil and bouquet of flowers clutched by Marina as she walks on stage in the low light. She takes her rightful place in front of the microphone and the bewitching hour begins. As she sings the opening lines to “Homewrecker,” she can barely be heard because the audience is singing every word. Marina is where she was always meant to be; on stage.
Marina and the Diamons’ How to be a Heartbreaker
Her studio work is amazing, but her live show is a different world entirely. Her black mini skirt and black ponytail showcase her as the self-proclaimed “goth Britney Spears” she always wanted to be. And while some of the songs from – well most of them actually – are pretty depressing, Marina herself is full of energy and life. You’d think she had been doing this her whole life. She really connected with everyone in the audience. And while she has played arenas before (she opened for Coldplay this summer), she really should be headlining them.
As “Mowgli’s Road” begins, she beckons the audience to sing with her. Her hot pink throw rug and maroon chaise lounge reflect Marilyn Monroe’s bedroom as seen in Tiger Beat magazine. After a quick costume change, she sings “Power and Control” like she wrote it for every audience member, her voice so angelic it almost hurt. By the time she gets to “Shampain” it’s a full on party, even throwing a martini glass full of glitter into the audience. Then comes the moment many in the audience were waiting for: “Primadonna”. Marina even performs it with a special friend, Marilyn: A meth-addicted toy dog she got in Europe because she couldn’t take a real dog on tour. She really is quite the comedienne. “Fear and Loathing” ends the show on a somber note leaving the audience begging for more. Teenagers screaming “Teen Idle”, “Heartbreaker”, “The show can’t be over”. Guess they’re too young to know what an encore is.
Marina came back on stage in a blue prom dress for the final two songs of then night. As she accompanied herself on the keyboard for “Teen Idle”, everyone sang along. This is THE track of “Electra Heart” and it’s even more powerful live. Her haunting voice and the simple keyboard make this performance a standout of the show. She closes out with “How To Be A Heartbreaker”, dancing around the stage like a 14 year old girl dancing to “Bye Bye Bye”. She briefly introduces her band after the song; they all bow and exit stage right. The show was over and dreams came true.
If you weren’t a Diamond before, you definitely became one after this show.
Written by Nick Personett
OurVinyl | Contributor