Marina and the Diamonds - HMV Institute, Birmingham
Prior to this evening I hadn’t heard anything of Massachusetts gal Meredith Sheldon and to be honest I still know next to nothing about her. So then, if you’re going make a good first impression, walking on stage wearing little more than a rolled up shirt is a good way to go. It helps of course to have some tight songs also. Meredith rattled through a 30-minute set with her brand of alternative pop/rock tunes; some indistinct lyrics on account of a bit of reverb and loud guitar support made for some slight quibbles to what was an otherwise enjoyable sound.
Meredith seemed suitably laid back in contrast to tonight’s main draw, though sadly she didn’t allow enough of her personality to shine. A tad too serious perhaps, with a noted lack of audience interaction, although with a little polish here and there I don't see why she can’t make a bigger dent in the future.
As 20:30 ticked around the battle of the legs waged on with the eventual arrival of the primadonna girl herself. Despite a rather foreboding approach to the mic stand, Marina - looking like a grown-up Sue Lyons attempting to kick-start some kind of Bubblegum Goth trend - launched straight into ‘Homewrecker’, signalling what would be an evening of pure pop majesty. She may be very vocal about artificial trappings within the entertainment industry but here you could only wonder how much of it she needed to embrace in order to carry her satirical points across. Electra Heart, then, is a curious creation and one which leads to uncertainty, whether it’s the bright young artist simply getting it out of her system or if she has indeed heralded a major change in her career. Whatever the case it’s obviously paid off after securing a recent number 1 chart hit, further helped by strong radio support.
Nevertheless there’s no faulting Marina’s sense of style as she adopted a kitsch 60s attitude which would evolve over three swift wardrobe changes, seeing her next slip into a kind of emerald-green prom dress and later a silver-sequined stunner (I could only snap the first three songs, so I leave the rest to our dear readers’ imagination…)
The setlist kept things bouncing along nicely. This was an event that she clearly wanted to have fun with, requiring the audience to jump up and down as much as humanly possible. Highlights included ‘Oh No!’, ‘Mowgli’s Road’ and a slightly up-tempo ‘Bubblegum Bitch’ and when she did slow things down she delivered beautiful renditions of songs such as ‘I Am Not A Robot’ and ‘Obsessions’ - to which she displayed her obvious piano skills. The gig was capped off with ‘Hollywood’, just when we all thought she was actually going to dare not use it. Some songs had to give way of course but overall this was a nice selection of tracks that kept us ‘satisfied’ (f’nar).
Throughout the 90-minute set, Marina took the occasional time-out to address her fans. She would sit back and tell the odd anecdote; have a dance with her toy canine (whose name I forget) and generally show appreciation toward those who helped to get her where she is today. It’s always a nice thing to see artists reciprocate this way, by showing a very real connection to their fan base and above all being sincere whilst doing so. Marina, for all her pop-delic eccentricities is a genuine article; a loveable, bubbly lass who simply knows how to entertain. Here’s looking forward to seeing what she has up her sleeve next.
I Am Not A Robot
The State of Dreaming
Power & Control
How To Be a Heartbreaker
Fear And Loathing
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