Marina and the Diamonds shows star power at the Commodore
At the Commodore Ballroom on July 15
Marina Diamandis—better known as Marina and the Diamonds—may not yet be a household name in North America, but based on her Commodore performance Sunday, the London-based pop vocalist is well on her way to global stardom. Or, at the very least, freaky cult superstardom.
Shortly after New York openers Ms Mr left the stage, audience members flocked to the front of the stage. A good-sized chunk of them sported the Welsh-born singer’s familiar heart-shaped beauty mark on their cheeks. Whether dolled-up glamour girls or bearded-and-dreadlocked hippies, they proudly dressed up their faces with eyeliner or glittery stickers. One lanky kid with a moussed-up do gauchely placed his on the right side, though all things considered he was more on the mark than the patron sporting an Aladdin Sane–style lightning bolt across his mug.
While Marina and the Diamonds’ latest album Electra Heart didn’t hit number one over here like it did in the U.K., the Commodore crowd welcomed the singer and her five-piece band with a stadium-sized roar when a pink neon sign hovering above the stage signalled her entrance. Diamandis strutted onstage sporting a bridal veil and a fuzzy mohair jacket, and quickly worked into the Electra Heart number “Homewrecker”, which had her slinking around during spoken-word verses before pirouetting throughout the stomping, electro-glam chorus.
Considering a coat rack stood centre stage, costume changes inevitably figured into the artist’s playfully peppy performance. She slapped on a pair of massive, Elton John–grade heart-shaped sunglasses for “Oh No!”, which merged theatrical Kate Bush vocals with Katy Perry pop production.
While much of the set was fuelled by propulsive club beats, things slowed things down from time to time, as on the crushing “Lies”, a ballad Diamandis said was perfect for a “depressing singles Sunday night”. Later, “State of Dreaming” played it precious at first, with dainty synth hooks coming off like a Disney Princess cut, but the group bustled back into a nu-disco thump by song’s end.
A mid-set costume change brought the vocalist back out in a shiny pink prom dress, which she quickly adorned with a sash that read “Miss Shellfish Beach” (sound it out, people) for the garage-rockin’ “Bubblegum Bitch”. Diamandis spun around, blew kisses, and pumped her fist as she sung the bratty song.
For her current hit “Primadonna”, Diamandis introduced her new best pal, a yappy, battery-powered pooch named Marilyn. “She’s just generally chatty,” the singer quipped of the toy poodle, who barked on command. The cartoony “Primadonna” proved one of the night’s finest numbers, with Diamandis shelling out an over-the-top cutesy, Betty Boop voice on the verses. The mechanized Marilyn, meanwhile, eerily shook its head from side to side to the track’s Euroclub pulse.
The encore-closer “Hollywood” was equally prop-intensive, with the singer juggling a novelty hamburger, a pompom, and a microphone during its intro. While one line in the self-referential song has agents noting the breakout artist’s resemblance to both Shakira and Catherine Zeta-Jones, Diamandis has already carved out her niche in the pop world. If Marina and the Diamonds’ on-point performance wasn’t proof enough, the doting crowd’s heart-pocked faces were a dead giveaway.