Marina & the diamonds @ Manchester Academy 23/05/10

May 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

The last time Marina & the Diamonds played Manchester, it was at the 200 or so capacity Deaf Institute, a charming and much loved venue, but ultimately just a room above a trendy bar. Whilst that crowd had its fair share of Diamonds (they’re the fans, come on you now that by now), this time there is a much more palpable excitement in the air. It could be the heat of what is likely to be Manchester’s only weekend of sun that has caused the energetic buzz in the room, but most likely it’s the anticipation of seeing what audible and visual treats will be thrown out to the crowd by Ms. Diamandis tonight.

Support act Spark warms the crowd up wonderfully; the fresh-faced 18 year old displays frankly incredible vocals on tracks such as ‘Keeper’ and ‘American Girl’. She possesses a voice which is in equal parts wide-ranging, charismatic, and effortless (in a flawless, innate manner). Other tracks such as ‘Scream’ and ‘Blow’ showcase Spark’s ability to write sparkling pop songs that induce a feeling of familiarity, brought on by a certain magnetism rather than any kind of repetitiveness. With time and talent on her side, there is definitely much more to come from Spark.

The stage is prepared for Marina, as the crowd drink pints of water and fan themselves with anything they can get their sweaty paws on. However, as the lights dim and Starsmith’s remix of Marina’s current single ‘I Am Not A Robot’ begins to play, they forget all about the rising humidity and concentrate on the visuals being projected onto the stage; a kaleidoscopic like short featuring smoke, many silhouettes and a masked Marina blowing diamond dust. A welcome surprise, I don’t think Academy 2 has seen anything that theatrical since..well..maybe ever. This fades into ‘Girls’, and Marina bounds on stage clothed in a cloak-like Bambi dress and sporting UV pink lips. ‘Girls’ is a well chosen opener, full of energy and allowing for a perfect balance of vocal flexing alongside the sho(wo)manship the crowd expect from their leading lady for the night. This is followed by ‘Seventeen’, a welcome entry in the setlist which proves that Marina was writing incredible songs before The Family Jewels.

Current single ‘I Am Not A Robot’ is received warmly and loudly; the crowd singing every word. The energetic numbers of ‘Oh No!’ and ‘The Outsider’ are balanced with ‘Numb’, for which the band leaves the stage, leaving Marina solo at her keyboard. They return for ‘Obsessions’ and ‘Rootless’, after which Marina exits for a costume change, leaving the crowd entertained by the Monarchy remix of ‘Hollywood’ accompanied by more visuals. This time they show a feather and frosting covered Marina roaming the bizarre and perplexing streets of the place that gave its name to the song. This makes way for the original version of the song; Marina charges back on stage in Mickey Mouse dungarees and a t-shirt proclaiming her love for..well herself. And who can blame her?! ‘Hollywood’ brings the crowd in their diamond and temperature induced haze to a heady high, singing loudly and more than happily obliging as Marina yells “jump!” (Proof in itself that they are enjoying themselves: only adoration makes people indulge in sweaty group jump sessions on days this hot).

‘Shampain’ brings more energy to the mix, before a rousing vocal display in ‘Guilty’, a track which when performed live takes on much more of a complexity and depth than found on the album version. The crowd are left to ponder this during the encore, after which Marina and band return. Marina conducts a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday directed towards drummer Seb (as well as the many people in the audience who promise Marina they too were born on this very day, cue “You’re all lying aren’t you?!”), before launching into the best cover you have heard/are likely to hear for a long time, her take on 3Oh!3’s ‘Starstrukk’, as heard in Radio 1’s Live Lounge. Any doubts anyone may have had about Marina’s vocal ability are definitively put to rest by the end of this spine-tingling couple of minutes. Finally ‘Mowgli’s Road’, a stomping number full of the boundless energy, character, and sparkling charm that epitomises Marina & the Diamonds.

A flawless and fierce performance from an artist whose success is both hard earned and well deserved.

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