I first saw Marina and the Diamonds at the Skyway Theater a couple years ago, and I jumped at at the chance to see her again at Northrop Auditorium for her 2015 Neon Nature tour, the night before Halloween.
Welsh singer and songwriter Marina Diamandis, who tours with the stage name Marina and the Diamonds, is a self-described “alternate pop” artist, a genre that incorporates a mix of keyboard-inspired synthpop, electropop, and rock. With a stage presence and choice of costume to rival Gwen Stefani, it is impossible not enjoy her live performances.
While her genre of music is a little outside of my normal fare, her dark, electric melodies, disillusion with society, and enchantingly versatile voice kept me interested in her work. Unlike the uncomfortably tight Skyway Theater, the Northrop accommodated hundreds of fans–so many that the merchandise line wrapped around the first floor lobby and ran out of product before we left the building. The third floor balcony felt a bit distant, but I was able to enjoy the intensely visual show nonetheless.
None of us had heard of the French musical act Christine and the Queens, but this opener was almost as much of a highlight as the main act. Vocalist Heloise Letissier emerged in a sharp pantsuit, and with a set of backup dancers proceeded to entrance with her flawless, energetic moves. Between numbers, she chatted casually with the audience. “Yes, this is a French accent,” she confirmed. “I am from France.” Her spunk and masterful style made her an immediate favorite with the audience.
When she came on stage, Diamandis peered around at the towering balconies filled with fans and remarked, “Well, this is the tallest concert I’ve ever done.” There were nearly 3,000 fans in attendance–some dressed in varied fruit-themed costume to pay homage to her most recent album (Froot–some wore headbands decked with sparkling red cherries, others donned full-body banana suits) and some just in full Halloween costume. I was thrilled to spot a Starfleet officer in engineering yellow in the top balcony.
The Neon Nature tour is a performance in three acts, cycling through the highlights of each of Diamandis’s previous albums. Beginning with Family Jewels, the show was accompanied by a dazzling digital backdrop, depicting everything from a lush, sparkling jungle to a Betty Boop cartoon throughout the show. The transition from Family Jewels to Electra Heart had the audience thrumming with energy as they bounced to the electric rhythms of “Bubblegum Bitch.” The fever pitch still rose when she finally moved into Froot. Everyone stood for the entire performance, too excited to take a seat.
Perhaps one of the most serene moments of the concert was when Diamandis was left alone onstage with nothing but a keyboard to accompany herself on the song “Happy.”
The audience sang along raptly. After the piece ended, a too-eager fan leaped onto the stage and kissed her cheek before being hauled away.
“It’s okay, it’s okay,” said Diamandis after the crowd’s unrest. “I think he just wanted to say hello.” Ever cool, she continued with her final songs unperturbed.
Diamandis made three costume changes, each more fabulous than the last. She ended in a sequined blue dress, complete with a magnificent diaphanous cape.
Altogether it was a memorable show, capturing the dark energy and excitement that is omnipresent throughout her oeuvre. The band never faltered in energy, hyping each transition in addition to Diamandis’s main features. The division into three parts made it an ideal concert for any fan of Marina and the Diamonds, whether you’ve been a fan from the beginning, entered with Electra Heart (like me), or really dig the taste of Froot.