By Matt Arena
Before her two-night stint at New York’s Webster Hall, Marina and the Diamonds played a small, intimate show on the rooftop penthouse of the Mondrian Hotel in Soho. Not being too familiar with her material prior to this, it was quite an experience getting to see her play to a tiny group of people. With her classy attire and an incredibly stripped down set (just an acoustic guitar and keyboard for the backing band), she showcased a handful of songs of her latest release, Electra Heart and her first album The Family Jewels. Songs like ‘Lies,’ which she herself called “the most depressing love song ever,” and the upcoming single ‘How to be a Heartbreaker,’ both sounded incredible as her powerful voice is the anchor that most of her songs tie themselves to. The latter has an infectious chorus, the type that’s destined to be a constant on the radio waves come October when the single drops. Though Marina’s sound might be more fitting in a 1950’s smoky jazz club than a modern New York City hotel rooftop, that didn’t stop it from being one of the more impressive acoustic sets out there. “Stripped down” usually means boring to some bands, but Marina’s natural ability comes from a very stripped down place so it was incredibly well fitting. It’s clear that she doesn’t need to rely on heavy production to put on a good show and no doubt everyone at the show would agree.
Taking an almost concept approach to her latest album, Marina uses the title character to represent four archetypes within the music; the primadonna, su-barbie-a, the homewrecker and the teen idol. The multi-faceted approach to the music and concept behind the album most definitely comes across in a live environment as well. Each of the songs seems to take on the titular archetype, giving a much more dynamic sound and allowing her to become much more than just an average pop star. In a musical climate where the Katy Perry’s of the world reign supreme, it’s refreshing to see a female singer like Marina and the Diamonds show that pop music doesn’t have to be formulaic or cliché. Currently in support of the album, Marina and the Diamonds are headlining Webster Hall this coming Thursday and Saturday and if her performance with just an acoustic guitar, keyboard, and microphone is any judge, she’s sure to put on a stellar show.