If someone with no knowledge of Marina and the Diamonds had poked their head into The Paramount on Sunday night, they might have taken one look at Marina Diamandis’ bright, colorful costumes and visuals, and heard the screams of her largely young, female crowd and thought “Oh, ugh. Kiddie pop.”
It would be a mistake to dismiss her as bubblegum pop. While yes, her costumes were hilariously outrageous (shiny pink mouse ears, an Abba-worthy pink flared jumpsuit), the animated visuals bright and flashy, and the ecstatic screams from the audience loud, her music is smart and clever. And unlike other pop performers who go for sparkle and flash, Diamandis manages to wear giant blueberries on her head with no small amount of elegance, and yes, even dignity.
Performing in front of an elevated platform that housed her four-piece band, Diamandis displayed not just a strutting confidence, but a stellar voice as well. With a soaring soprano that at times borders on operatic, it’s surprising to learn Diamandis has had no formal training. A self-taught singer/songwriter, Diamandis excels at melodic indie-pop (or sometimes even just pop), with smart lyrics that often have a delightfully feminist bent.
In an interesting setlist twist, rather than having all the work divided evenly throughout the set, the show is broken up into three acts, one for each album. The only shift in sound was for Electra Heart , Marina’s second album where she went blonde and dove into a more pure pop sound. The Electra Heart songs had a heavy dance feel and were fun, but lacked some of the wit and charm of the other two albums.
Prior to her latest release Froot, Marina apparently agreed, as she “killed” her alter ego (also named Electra Heart) went back to being a brunette and returned to the “indie pop” sound. It’s a welcome return, both on album and in concert, particularly with songs like “Can’t Pin Me Down,” and the main set closer “Immortal,” a rare turn into pensive mode.
French singer Heloise Letissier and her project Christine and the Queens won over the crowd immediately as the opening act. Half French pop, half performance art (throwing glitter, male street dancers), Letissier was completely charming and appreciative of the warm reception. A highlight of her set was “Paradis Perdus,” a self-described mash-up between a French pop song and Kanye West’s “Heartless.”
Act I: The Family Jewels
1. Mowgli’s Road
2. I Am Not a Robot
3. Oh No!
Act II: Electra Heart
6. Bubblegum Bitch
8. How To Be a Heartbreaker
Act III: Froot
13. Can’t Pin Me Down
14. I’m a Ruin