all words: William Alberque
all photos: Farrah Skeiky
Marina and the Diamonds received an inauspicious early slot on Friday at the 930 Club. I feel even worse for Ra Ra Rasputin, playing to a mostly empty club before happy hour had a chance to get underway. It’s a damn shame – Ra Ra Rasputin are a wonder to behold, and surely destined for big things, bridging the gap between dancefloor euphoria of Cut Copy and Friendly Fires and the Factory indie of Selebrities and Factory Floor. Did Anna leave the band? Patrick was doing falsettos – I wonder what happened? Anyway, they were excellent, and those that were there seemed to enjoy it greatly. I want them to blow up like Yeasayer – they deserve more exposure. This show, unfortunately, did not give them any. Ah well.
Marina, like Yeasayer, has greatly improved her delivery since last time she was in town. I assume it’s because the artists read BYT and take the withering criticism to heart and adapt. Unlike last time, she did not look like an escapee from a Lady Gaga show. Unfortunately, she looked a bit like an escapee from an 80s video. Why did she think that hair color would work on her? And the lipstick and giant puffball earrings and neon green pants
? It was perfectly appropriate for her fan base, which seemed to be comprised almost entirely of gay men and young’uns. The music was wonderful, as well, with very strong electro backed by a solid backing band, with good drumming and excellent piano interludes keeping things moving along.
The show starts with “The Family Jewels,” and Marina makes her entrance on the giant screen, appearing in a video of her in various poses, with, yes, a multitude of diamonds morphing on screen with a hard techno beat. The 3/4s full club is electrified by this, and the screams of the young girls in the crowd is exactly what you expect it to be – high-pitched and intensely annoying. Fortunately, she launches right into “Girls,” and then “Seventeen.” Her vocals on the latter are excellent, smooth and beautiful – not the halting, glottal stops of her normal delivery. The energy dissipates a bit with “The Outsider,” a mid-tempo tune, followed by a piano interlude, giving Marina time to leave the stage and change into what appear to be oversized sparkly white pajamas. WTF?
Fortunately, she launches into “I Am Not a Robot,” inspiring a massive sing-along before she launches into the electro perfection of “Living Dead.” It’s a new song, completely infectious and utterly unforgettable, illustrating the new, more ambitious direction for Marina. Utterly brilliant. “Obsessions” is next, with Marina bringing the torch-song brilliance of the original and making it quite intimate. She segues into “Are You Satisfied?” after introducing the band, launching directly into “Hermit the Frog,” which is a bit too mid-tempo for the moment.
Marina launches into the second new song of the night, “Jealousy,” to an enthusiastic response, tossing a pom-pom into the crowd. I find it a bit formulaic, but it’s got the energy back up. Fortunately, Marina uses this opportunity to showcase her witty and winning personality, chatting about fake tattoos (you had to be there – I tried to type it out, and without the accent, it doesn’t work) before inspiring a sing-along with “Oh No!” I’m pleased that they do “Shampain” next – it’s a terrific dance song with a big clap along and sings along. I think it’s “Guilty” next, with loads of percussion, but I don’t know what’s next – it might be “Mowgli’s Road.”
Marina talks about ambition – she says she’s an ambitious bitch, but she’s grateful everyone’s here, before playing the fun techno of “Numb.” It’s easy to sympathize with her ambitions as she takes the opportunity for a costume change, again showcasing her incredibly curvaceous body clothed in an American flag outfit. Of course, this signals that they’re closing with “Hollywood,” another top tune, executed brilliantly.
It is a bit baffling why she hasn’t reached her potential, but I’m sure, with her stated (and obvious) ambition, she’ll get there eventually.