Marina & The Diamonds @ The Commodore Ballroom – July 15th 2012

On the Sunday of the show while walking down Granville to get a bite to eat before the show we passed a burgeoning line outside the Commodore. It was hours before the show and people were already lining up. For Marina and the Diamonds? While I’m a fan, I was surprised that there were so many people who were that intense about the show. Especially ones that were already ticket holders. The line was a veritable cornucopia of hipsters and people who looked like they wanted to be best friends with Rainbow Brite. The only thing outshining their attire was their excitement. Personally, I would have been far less enthusiastic about unnecessarily standing in a line for two hours, but, hey, whatever peels your banana.

After a tasty meal at the Famous Warehouse we returned to the Commodore to find that the line had grown exponentially and was wrapped around the corner. Luckily, we were joining the much shorter Will Call line for my press pass. Across the street at Venue there was another long line forming for a show, but this one was chock-full of metal kids clad in black, a stark contrast to our line of carefully coiffed and bedazzled patrons. Unsurprisingly, I received a few looks of confusion that suggested I belonged in the other line, which in all fairness I usually would be. However, that night I was trading in my maxed out amps, patch pants, and studs for the cool stylings of Ms. Marina Diamondis.

If you don’t know who Marina Diamondis is, it’s time you found out. Unlike many of her pop counterparts, this woman can really sing. She needs no help from Auto-Tune, she doesn’t lip sync, and her performance is about her unique sound, not her body. (Although, believe me, she’s gorgeous.) Instead, she perfectly melds pop princess sass with intelligent lyrics and powerful vocals. Comparisons could easily be drawn between Diamandis and Katy Perry who Marina and the Diamonds actually opened for in 2011 on her “California Dreams” tour.

However, before the crowd could get what they’d come for, the only opening band, MS MR, was set to perform. Now usually when I attend a show without being familiar with the opening band I am disappointed, sometimes even horrified. Not this time. MS MR impressed an unsuspecting Commodore crowd with their high energy level and charm, leaving fans abuzz with excitement for Marina and the Diamonds.

In between sets I moved down to the front to take photos, however, trying to take photos was a challenge as there was no barrier for this show. Thankfully, being six feet tall came in handy (as it usually does), and I managed to get a decent spot in the crowd, standing behind some lovely ladies who didn’t mind the occasional lens bump to the head. If it were any other crowd I probably would have been in trouble, but for the most part the attendees were cooperative, pleasant, and simply there to partake in the sugary goodness of the evening.

The crowd, awash with bowties, thrift store sweaters, and glassless frames, undulated with appreciation as Marina walked onto the stage. Appearing like the embodiment of “sugar, spice, and everything nice” she quickly demonstrated why she is so much more than just a run of the mill pop singer. With a shy, quirky charisma she instantly captivated everyone in the building and sang with a range that provokes awe. During her performance she utilized hyper feminine props such as a plush, purple chaise, satirical beauty contest sash, and pink animatronic dog. For the most part the props were entertaining, but occasionally their usage felt forced. However, every costume alteration and prop was clearly selected to highlight song subtleties, and the crowd ate every bit of it up. At one point in the show she threw flower after flower from a bouquet of roses into the crowd, each one met with screams and grabs, leaving a few triumphant fists thrust in the air, clenched around the rose remnants.

While comparisons can be made between Marina’s voice and those of other pop stars, she has that je ne sais quoi that sets her apart. Her voice is chillingly beautiful, lending a genuine and smooth quality to even the sassiest of material. There is a captivating quality to her voice that can somehow be simultaneously charming and haunting. It is a voice that is hard to believe isn’t aided in any way as she sounds identical to her recorded material.

Modest and appreciative, Marina humbly thanked her talented band and devoted fans many times, ensuring that they knew just how much she appreciated them. Overall, her kind manner and coy mischievousness only endeared her further to the audience, and to me. While my next concert will probably find me back amongst mohawks and studded mosh pits, my experience at Marina and the Diamonds may have me crossing the street a bit more often than before.

Photos © Lea Cave

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