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Review | Marina and the Diamonds lights up The London Palladium

By Will Stroude

Marina Lambrini Diamandis’ gig at The London Palladium last night (December 6) was something of a homecoming for an artist whose Neon Nature tour that’s taken her to all four corners of the United States over the last few months, where she’s rightly considered a staple of left-field Brit-pop cool. 

That’s true no more so than among the gays, who’ve long embraced her brand of quirky camp and forthright attitude – something that was perfectly on display when we spoke to her earlier this year and she took aim at certain nameless pop stars who pay “contrived” lip service to their gay fans.

“When you’re an artist, you giving a shit does not equate to going ‘I love you guys!’ five times a day on Twitter,” she told us. “If you want to do something, you do it in action.”


Putting words into to a blitzkrieg of typically brassy action was high on the agenda from the outset, as Marina burst back onto the London stage in a flared fushia two-piece to the sound of 2009’s ‘Mowgli’s Road’, for a night that celebrated just how far she’s come between that debut and her most recent album, FROOT.

“I picked this venue because I love blending theatre with what I do,” she told the crowd, which was more mixed than you’d perhaps expect, but came with the obligatory contingent of homosexuals and ‘Diamonds’ who’d “Yaaaaas’ed” and “slay mama’ed” themselves into a frenzy within minutes of their queen’s arrival. 

Marina’s knack for visual quickly proved that she’s an artist who thrives on performing live: Her quick lyrics and operatic vocal ticks have always made for brilliantly off-kilter records, but it’s only once they’re backed by a slew of onscreen emojis and the Marina’s own coquettish brand of camp that they really come into their own.

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The Welsh-born singer’s career has been divided into three very distinct eras, and the Neon Nature tour’s real triumph was its star’s decision to simply split the show into three separate acts, one for each album, and represented with four pleasingly cape-heavy costume changes. It was a move that paid dividends: Debut album The Family Jewels’ big hits I Am Not a Robot’ and ‘Hollywood’ sounded as fresh as they did back at the turn of the decade, and Marina’s voiced soared among its renowned idiosyncrasies.

The first act’s unexpected highlight came in the form of a simple keyboard rendition of the melancholic ‘Obsessions’, which backed by a vintage Betty Boop cartoon which became something altogether more sad and captivating. By ‘Act II’ things really hit their stride as she launched into the thumping hits of 2012’s “bitchy and camp” electro-pop side project Electra Heart (complete with pink pearlescent catsuit and added attitude to match). Sing-along hits like ‘How to Be a Heartbreaker’ and ‘Primadonna’ were natural highlights that made you wonder whether the act to come could top it, but the absence of seemingly disowned mega-banger ‘Radioactive’ was a surely sore sticking point for many a fan.

A soaring, strobe-filled rendition of ‘Lies’ made you wonder just what could happen to this still criminally-underrated artist’s mainstream prospects if she lent her ample vocals behind an on-trend DJ production, though perhaps the avoidance of that kind of shameless commercial venture is what’s made Marina endure for as long as she has done. She’s certainly no flash-in-the-pan.

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Despite the impressive hit-rate of the night’s first two acts, the show’s production really took on a life of its own for Part III, where a resplendent glitter catsuit, multicolored lightshow and smoky haze all combined to perfectly parade her most recent work’s ’70s technicolor aesthetic.

Marina’s third album might have seen her drop the overt meta-theatrical persona of ‘Electra Heart’ for a return to more grounded and heartfelt lyricism, but the 30-year-old’s appeal has always been her ability to tap into something much darker through her colourfully cartoonish demeanour: Thankfully its a captivating allure which tracks recent tracks like ‘Immortal’ and the thumping ‘Forget’ continue to have in spades.

“I hope everyone’s on their feet by now,” Marina yelled as the show rocketed towards its final encore of FROOT standouts ‘Happy’ and the bittersweet anti-heartbreak anthem ‘Blue’. It was an unnecessary request: Every single person packed into The Palladium had been on their feet since halfway through the show’s opening number.

As Marina and her band soaked up the applause from those iconic stands, it was clear the night was celebration of not only the FROOT-era coming to an end, but of Marina’s surely now-assured standing as one of Britain’s best alternative pop acts – and one who’s in their absolute element in a live setting.