Stood waiting in a crowd filled with around 5,000 fellow Diamonds, the energy in the air was electric. All eyes peeled to the stage, waiting for Marina Diamindis herself to step out and sing her little heart out. And she didn’t disappoint.
The pop songstress might have dropped the ‘Diamonds’, choosing for a more simplistic stage-name of just ‘Marina’, but she’s shining brighter than ever.
Opening up with ‘Handmade Heaven’, the ethereal lead single from ‘Love + Fear’, Marina immediately set the tone for the entire gig: light, elegant, with a splash of pure pop magic. Accompanied by four dancers and relatively simplistic stage lighting – it all came together and worked perfectly; keeping Marina and her voice at the forefront of the glittering spectacle.
She quickly moved on to a poppier sound, onto the nostalgia-fused ‘Hollywood’, which sounds as good and fresh today as it did when she released it almost ten years ago. It wasn’t long, though, before she dropped ‘Primadonna’ into the set, perhaps her most well-known song to date. The crowd went nuts. Fists were pumping through the air everywhere you looked, while pretty much every single person inside the Eventim Apollo screamed “all I ever wanted was the world” in unison. In all honesty, it was an almost spiritual experience.
It was my first time seeing Marina live, and hearing the iconic opening notes of ‘Primadonna’, her light voice before the thick, heavy beat kicks in is just something you need to experience, if you’re a Marina fan. Hell, even if you’re just a music fan – the energy Marina brings to the stage is truly magnetising.
And she kept up that energy throughout the entire gig, which was roughly just over an hour and a half. With a couple of ridiculously quick costume changes, Marina was present throughout pretty much the entire show, never stopping, never faltering or placing a single foot wrong.
The show itself was split into two halves, much like her latest album: Love, and, you guessed it, Fear. Both parts were equally as good as each other – it just depends on your personal music taste – but ‘Love’ had a clearer theme than ‘Fear’, following on from a similar critique of her latest record. Really, though, it’s such a minor point. For an hour and a half Marina owned that little stage in the depths of Hammersmith – and each and every second was bursting with joy.
The set-list was perfectly balanced to please both hard-core Diamonds and casual fans alike – with enough throwbacks to her iconic, earlier work and fresh interjects of ‘Love + Fear’ to make this tour particularly unique. There was only one song from ‘FROOT’ – the title track, one of my favourite Marina songs of all time – but, it kinda makes sense. ‘FROOT’ is such a cohesive album it’s better when listened to from start to finish; rather than through little glimpses here and there.
A particular highlight of the show was ‘Teen Idle’, an acoustic rendition of just Marina sitting down at the piano in the centre of the stage. It was a tender moment where Marina got to showcase just how talented she truly is. The lyrics themselves are super, super in ‘Teen Idle’ anyway, but hearing them fall from her lips truly gives an appreciation to the depth of her songwriting ability. She was also having fun with it – as she did throughout most of the set. Sometimes, she’d sing a song slightly slower than it is on the album – like, ‘I’m Not A Robot’, for example. At others, she’d sing parts in a lower key, like the chorus of ‘Baby’. But I loved that. Marina was playing her songs, enjoying them, and having a little bit of fun.
You could tell that Marina was living her best life. You could feel the energy radiating off of her, her beaming smile as she looked out onto a sea of adoring faces. Her energy amplified across the room, crackling through the air like electricity. The crowd was wild, screaming and dancing like it was the last night of their lives. It’s a testament to Marina, really. Firstly, you could tell how passionate the Diamonds are – they knew each and every word of every single song. Secondly, it’s because of Marina. Her energy and love was palpable, and thus the crowd returned it, tenfold.
Marina made use of every inch of the stage, prancing left to right. She constantly stuck her mic out into the crowd – encouraging the audience to scream the lyrics back at her. When we did so, to the tune of a hundred decibels, the grin on Marina’s face as she continued to sing was priceless. It’s such a simple – yet brilliant – way of getting the crowd engaged.
‘Believe In Love’ – one of the most beautiful songs of the decade, don’t @ me – featured two of Marina’s dancers taking centre stage and performing an intricate dance routine. Marina herself took a backseat, standing to the edge of the stage, singing the song that acted as a narration of their movements. Honestly, I kind of loved that. While we were all there to see Marina and appreciate her in all of her wonderful pop glory, it was nice that she allowed a tender moment of dance to play out before our very eyes.
There’s also the beautiful high-pitched tones that she ends the track on. I, for one, knew Marina could sing live – no doubt about it – but I never knew how well. Honestly, her voice is just as stunning as it is on the tracks – which is a very rare thing indeed. Her high notes are crystal clear, like ice, and her lows are beautiful and deep, like an endless blue ocean. In short: She’s fucking talented.
The show isn’t as much of a *spectacle* when compared to other gigs I’ve been to recently – like Lady Gaga featuring a gigantic robot, or Muse’s massive inflatable alien – it was mainly just Marina, a few dancers and some pretty visuals. But it works. There’s already so much going on – from the bright colours, the beauty of Marina’s voice, the wild crowd and the slick dance-choreo, that Marina doesn’t actually need anything else added to it. It puts her talent at the front and centre; and it’s undeniable.
Her personality comes through in heaps, too. Despite her not doing as much crowd interaction as say, Lindsey Stirling – with Marina it’s more hit after hit after hit, rather than taking time to have a little chat with the crowd – you still come away feeling as though you know her. There were so many nuanced moments, so many natural actions of Marina that made her feel like your friend as opposed to a world-touring pop princess. From asking “are you ready for this one?” a fair few times before a song, to declaring “hold up, I’ve just got to tie up my neon shoelace” – Marina, the human behind the music and all of the personas – really comes through. Walking away from the gig, I felt connected to her – and, in turn, her music – on a level I hadn’t quite experienced before.
Marina also performed an unreleased track ‘I’m Not Hungry Anymore’, which I’d never heard before (I know, I know, I’m a terrible fan). The track itself was marvellous; one of pure fiery passion where Marina sings from her gut. ‘Bubblegum Bitch’ was a zesty little number of energy – my favourite moment being when the crowd screamed “welcome to the life of Electra Heart” to the tune of thousands.
‘To Be Human’ – my favourite song of the year, I might add – was of course a marvellous feat to experience first-hand; the passion and message of the track burning through the air as the powerful music video was blasted on the screen.
She even did a little audience vote mid-set, which was pretty cute. The two choices being ‘Blue’ and ‘Oh No!’, the latter winning by a landslide, going down a treat with the fans. ‘End of the Earth’ was a magnetic penultimate song, its raptuous chorus truly a marvellous sight to behold. You could feel the song in your chest, pulsing through you, as the room was lit up with hundreds of phone lights.
Closing the show with ‘How To Be A Heartbreaker’, Marina went out with a bang. I’d never have considered that myself to be a closing number, to be honest, but it worked brilliantly. With the hefty base echoing throughout the theatre, Marina’s clean vocals and the stomping pounding of dancing – it ended the night on a blissful high that I can still feel even a day later.
With ‘Love + Fear’ being one of my most listened to albums of the year, I had high hopes to see the music take to the stage, to hear the nuances of the record dance through the air. And I wasn’t disappointed. Marina took us on a journey of ethereal pop beauty, and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.