Show Review: Marina & The Diamonds at Popscene, 330 Ritch, 7/8/10

by Marie Carney on July 12, 2010

Marina & the Diamonds - Stripped down

Four songs into the set, Marina Diamandis, the songstress that is Marina & the Diamonds (the Diamonds being you, the fans, duh!) announces boldly that this is “the last chance you’ll get to see me like this.”  Whether or not this is true, at this moment in time, Marina & the Diamonds is bigger than the packed dance floor of Popscene at 330 Ritch.  Of course, Popscene is notorious for giving you the opportunity to say “I saw them when” but could Marina really back up her claim that she will be one of the greats, or will she just fade out once popular culture is done with her?

I saw Marina & the Diamonds twice at SXSW this year, and the show at Popscene was nothing like those performances.  Where the South by performances were polished and clean, this performance was dirty and intense.  South by, of course, is not filled with fans who sing along to music and get excited, but San Francisco certainly is.  A lot of the time this show felt more like being at sing-a-long Little Mermaid as everyone sang along at the top of their lungs.  Truth be told, I’m used to getting dirty looks for engaging in this kind of behaviour, so it was a welcome relief for me to get to display all my joy and lyrical knowledge loudly along with everyone else. 

Needless to say, the audience was excited to be there and had a lot of energy to give.  The only issue was Marina was missing half the band she usually performs with, giving us a stripped down version of all her songs.  It was just vocals, keyboards, drums and bass, making it feel more like you were listening to old school  four-track demos instead of the polished, dance oriented music of the album.  It was certainly interesting and enthralling to hear the music this way, the songs stripped down to what I assume was the way Marina originally wrote them, including a few instances with just her and the piano.  But Popscene is a dance club, and whenever a song would build to a faster part, or more intense drum beat, you could tell the crowd wanted to explode into movement, but instead, the beat never quite arriving, they exploded into song.

Without her comments, there would have been no way for the audience to know this was not her usual style of performance.  Although she said she was nervous, it did not show, unless some occasional flat notes were an indication.  She still strutted about the stage, stunningly beautiful in her Mickey Mouse overalls, just like she did in Austin, Texas.  I did notice that she seemed less embarrassed to play her first hit song “Hollywood” than she was in Texas.  Instead of apologizing for it’s anti-american content she put on some dollar sign shaped sunglasses and held up a stuffed hamburger.  And again, the audience proved that we either forgive her or agree by singing back every single word as loud as we could.

Throughout the show, Marina kept reminding us to come see her in September, each time with the subtle promise that it would only be bigger and better.  I’m sure her band will be bigger, but I can’t help to be skeptical, as a die hard anglophile, that any artist this “British” will make it here in the states.  My friend who went with me made a comment that it felt like the crowd thought they were seeing Lady Gaga play a tiny club, and in a sense she was right.  Though it might have been the large gay constituent adding to the feeling, since they are not the usual Popscene crowd.  If it was a show of just the anglophiles, you can be assured she isn’t going to get any more popular (there are only so many of us trying to convince the world of our favourite artist’s talent).

Whatever happens it was great to see an artist perform such a raw set, especially to such a receptive crowd.  I will be seeing her a fourth time at the Independent on September 15th, and hopefully you’ll join me.  I’ll be near the front singing along to every word.  Again.

Setlist:

Shampain
The Outsider
Seventeen
I Am Not A Robot
Numb (solo keyboard)
Oh No! (solo keyboard)
Obsessions (solo keyboard)
Are You Satisfied?
Hollywood
Starstrukk (3OH!3 cover)
Guilty

Encore:

Mowgli’s Road

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Tony July 13, 2010 at 8:48 am

Another good review though I really don’t see Marina as all that British, I think she has a reasonable chance of success here.

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Vanessa Romero July 13, 2010 at 11:17 am

Yea I didn’t even realize she was British until this show when I heard her speak.

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