Marina & the diamonds @ The Deaf Institute 21/02/10

February 23, 2010 § Leave a comment

Having just reviewed The Family Jewels I thought maybe I’d skip reviewing the Marina & the diamonds gig. Then 3 things happened (yes all at once):

1. I remembered I’d already promised to review it.

2. I read the M.E.N’s review and decided someone who actually paid attention at the gig should review it.

3. I remembered what a great time I had!

So here you go…

The Deaf Institute is a great venue, let me start by saying that. Tiny, fun and full of character. It was my first time seeing Marina, and my first gig at the Deaf Institute, so the first thing I thought when I walked into the Music Hall was…”she won’t be playing venues this size for much longer”. Which will be a shame, you can’t get the same level of intimacy and closeness in bigger venues.

The crowd were happy before Marina even took to the stage, due to the fact that the support act was thoroughly enjoyable – Alan Pownall and his band. I had never heard of him before but when Alan announced this was his first gig outside of London I had to presume that he had been playing there for some time – he was professional, comfortable on stage, and hugely talented.

As the support finished and the stage was prepared for Marina, the anticipation was palpable. It is has been mentioned several times that some Diamonds are a little over-enthusiastic, so I was a little apprehensive as to how those I could hear talking about demos and letter-writing would react when Ms. Diamandis took to the stage. As she came out, cloaked in a floor length black sparkling dress, the cheers, whoops and claps seemed to indicate that those of us in the crowd felt lucky to be seeing her, the day before her debut album release, in such a small and intimate venue.

‘Girls’ was the first track, and a fantastic opener, as the drums pounded and Marina bounded across the (very small) stage grinning into the crowd. I was very pleased to hear ‘Seventeen’ (a track from The Crown Jewels EP), and it seemed other people felt the same from the cheers it received. I had always thought it would be a hard song to sing live, being pretty low pitched, but Marina sounded incredible. I didn’t really know what to expect from her voice live, but I ended up being very impressed. Obviously her vocals were not as polished as on record, but was actually an improvement, with all the different tones and nuances to her voice being allowed to shine. And of course there were some extra ‘oohs’, ‘laas’ and ‘cuckoos’ thrown in throughout the night.

Next came ‘The Outsider’, probably my favourite album track and probably my favourite number of the night. The band seemed to be having a great time all night, especially during this number, and its upbeat rhythm, thumping drums and screams of I’m a fucking WILDCARD went down amazingly.

Marina took a moment between songs to announce that it was indeed the only show she would ever perform the night before her album release, and that she was feeling maybe just a little nervous about it all. The nerves didn’t show though, and she proceeded to perform ‘I Am Not A Robot’ (during which levels of Diamond singing reached their pinnacle) and Oh No!, which was another highlight of the night for me, the electronic drums actually sounded great and Marina’s vocals and facial expressions during all the Oh nos were priceless. Throughout the set she proceeded to display dramatic poses, arm movements and mic holding, which would have been over the top if they weren’t completely fitting for the songs they accompanied. She has great stage presence without seeming like she’s trying too hard, which isn’t all that easy to achieve.

[iPhone cameras are TERRIBLE but you get the idea]

The band took a brief jaunt backstage while Marina took to the keyboard for stripped down versions of Numb and Obsessions, during which her vocal power came through, and her talent for powerful ballads as well as quirky uptempo songs became more than apparent.

The band returned and we heard Rootless, Shampain and Hollywood, which was every bit as fun live as it is recorded (OH MY GOD being the highlight of course). And for the encore, the weirdly wonderful Mowgli’s Road. It was a brilliant number to end on, the quirkiest performance of the night (you try singing cuckoo without looking weird) and utterly enjoyable.

As Marina left the stage and the lights came back up, the crowd’s chatter seemed to indicate that we were completely satisfied, slightly besotted by her charms, and saddened that our night with her was over. Thankfully, she returns to Manchester to play Academy 2 on May 23rd, and we can do it all over again.

As for my not being “truly passionate about an artist until I’ve seen them live” – I’m a Diamond through and through.

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