[Live: Marina & The Diamonds (NME Awards Show), Shepherds Bush Empire, 29/02/12]
The last few weeks has seen NME take Britain’s gig scene by storm. Bands and artists have been peddling their wares across Britain. As part of this celebration of magnificent music, the queen of quirk herself, Marina and the Diamonds took to the stage in Brighton, Cambridge and London. Hype for her London shows is always pretty heavy, but it was interesting to see what the reaction would be as she showcased new material from the forthcoming Electra Hart album.
She took to a stage decorated with pink paper doily hearts a little after 9pm. Seriously, who else would dream of decorating Shepherds Bush Empire with disposable placemats? Later, Marina joked with us ‘well, after blowing most of the tour budget on my hair, pink, paper doilies was all we could afford!’ What would prove to be a wonderfully constructed set began with a beautiful, stripped back version her last single, Radioactive.
The first thing that struck me about 2012’s Marina, (or Electra, I am not sure who she was channeling at this point) was how incredible her voice sounded. She combined a fierce, gravelly husk, reminiscent of The Distillers’ Brody Dalle, with her trademark candy-coated pop-tones to glorious affect. It was kind of surprising to hear this Stepford-wife styled singer, standing before us, growling with such ferocity at times. However, when she divulged that her little white, frilly, lace gloves were, in fact, ‘homewrecking gloves’ things became a little clearer; she remains every bit as fierce and feisty as we remember, she is just masking it under a twinset and pearls.
As an MATD fan, it was a true delight to see her strutting to some of her upbeat tracks, such as Satisfied and Outisder. There was also a delightful sincerity as she welcoming the crowd into her world for some of the more intimate songs, such as Numb and Obsessions
Her performance was peppered with playful theatrics; hops, skips, jumps, cheeky winks and bizarre moments of petting her faithful robotic poodle, Marilyn. If this gig was designed to wet fans’ appetites for the second album, it absolutely hit the glitter-coated nail on the head. She gleefully tells me that the second album is “what Britney’s second album would have sounded like if she had gone goth“. Electra Hart is produced to perfection. It was that unapologetic craving for true love that inspired, what she is loathed to call, the ‘concept album’.
Highlights from the set included some phat new tracks; Starring Role, Homewrecker, Fear and Loathing, Living Dead and, the next single, Primadonna. The single, produced by the pedestal occupying Dr. Luke, a man who has made musical magic with Britney Spears, Katy Perry and Rihanna, is bloody BIG. Imagine a track that blends 90’s-style, Ace of Base-esque melodies, with sexy synths, banging beats and garnished a pop puree sprig of lyrical prowess, and there you have it, an inkling into what Primadonna is all about.
Marina & The Diamonds – Homewrecker
So, the gig was good. Bloody good. The Diamond looked relaxed and reveled in her well-deserved limelight. And as usual, she was certainly not afraid of a bit of audience banter. ‘Oh hello, is that an ex-boyfriend out there?‘ she joked after introducing a track that has never made it onto an album and one she hoped to have play for the final time, Jealousy.
The set had the perfect combination of shades of lights, darks, highs, lows, melodrama and gaiety to entertain and enchant. We reckon that both the husky, homewrecking temptresses (i.e. Electra Hart and Marina) have a seriously exciting year ahead of her.
Words: Cara Dattani
Pictures: germansaez.com, theartsdesk.com