I have been so excited about the return of Marina & The Diamonds to the U.S. Two themes emerged over Labor Day weekend: Turning 40 years old (a friend’s party in D.C.) and chasing Marina on the New Jersey Turnpike. I’m her starstrukk groupie for the long weekend as I saw her twice (New York and Philadelphia), but I could have easily seen her two more times (Asbury Park, N.J. and Washington, D.C.). Sufficed to say, I withheld myself before Marina put a restraining order on me.
Since her last jaunt through New York and SXSW in March, Marina has released her debut record here, The Family Jewels (buy it, it’s brilliant), but has yet to spend a lot of time in the U.S. to promote it with the exception of a few Left Coast dates over the summer.
A pretty hipster crowd filled Webster Hall. It’s cool she draws a pretty diverse fanbase. Unlike Robyn, Marina seems to still be somewhat of a secret here in the States. Webster Hall wasn’t even sold out. How is that possible? So I’m making my job to spread the Robot love to as many friends as I can. Wait, I am not a robot.
Marina’s band takes the stage and she appears wearing a beautifully fitted slinky black dress. It’s totally working for her. Not only does she have a face that the camera makes love to, but her body is ridiculous. On the wrong person, that dress could have been an unforgiving mistake. But not on Marina. Wasn’t it Bette Midler who said, “hey baby, if you got it, flaunt it?” Then she opens her mouth with the opening verse of “The Outsider.” “Feeling like a loser, feeling like a bum, sitting on the outside, observing the fun.” And just like that, I’m in love with her all over again.
Marina, with her increasingly signature bright pink lipstick and nails, covered nearly every song off The Family Jewels, including “Seventeen,” “Girls,” her latest single “Oh No!,” “Rootless” and “Are You Satisfied?” As I said the last time I saw her, she’s at her best when she gets behind the keys and sings “Numb” and “Obsessions.” It’s effortless, breathtaking and beautiful. I wisely positioned myself near the stage and off to the left to capture this Diamandis gem. I love the stars behind her and the wind blowing through her hair as she performs this song:
“I Am Not A Robot” is perhaps Marina’s most beloved song in her small catalog. It sealed the deal for me in 2009 and skyrocketed Marina to the top of my Best New Artist list. Ok, this list doesn’t really exist, but if it did, she’d be on top. If you check out her blog, you’ll see a couple of fan-made videos that reinterpret this gorgeous song. It’s about saying to yourself “stop being so ridiculous, you can’t let having a fear of failing hold you back,” as told to a reporter in her native Wales. “I’m just one person.” Clearly, the song has struck a chord with many of her fans as they all harmoniously sang along.
Other highlights included “Shampain,” the old ABBA cover which I believe will be her next single, and “Hollywood.” For the latter, Marina runs off stage and returns wearing a letterman’s jacket, big sunglasses, with two big cheeseburgers in her hands. Apparently this is Marina’s wardrobe interpretation of America. She closed her set with “Guilty.” Again caught on camera!
For her encore, she performed “Starstrukk,” a 3OH3 and Katy Perry cover. She posted a recording session of this on YouTube several months ago and has since become part of her set list in live acts. The song is so beautiful. The original is great, but it’s so upbeat you miss the heartbreak that this song is really about. “I just set them up to knock them down. I think I should know how to make love to something innocent without leaving my fingerprints out, now… L.O.V.E. is just another word I’ll never learn to pronounce.” Amazing, even more so live. She ended the night with “Mowgli’s Road.” Thanks to my friend Tanner at EW for getting me into the VIP section after the show to meet Marina. She looked at me and all I could say is “heyyyy Marina.” I told her I’d see her in Philly, and she gave me permission to be her stalker. Lovely and amazing.