Live Review, 7/11/12: Marina and the Diamonds Bring Pom-Poms, Melodrama, and Lots of Adoration to the Fillmore

Categories: Last Night
Andrew Lopez
Marina and the Diamonds at the Fillmore last night.
Marina & The Diamonds
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
The Fillmore

Better than:
Most other musical theater. 

Marina Diamandis has always stated that the Diamonds in her stage name refers not to her band members, or even her last name, but rather to her fans. Clearly she was using that name before she had much of an audience, but, like a self-fulfilling prophecy, Marina's fans these days are some of the most over-excited and fanatical and obsessive you will ever find. Tonight's show is totally sold out, and not one person seems to be in the building out of casual interest.

Andrew Lopez
This is an audience that sings along, very loudly, to every single word of every single song -- including the verses of album tracks lesser fans might not know so well. It's an audience that bounces on command, screams every time there's a costume change (yes, there are costume changes -- three big ones, a few minor ones), and swoons a little every time Marina addresses it. It is an audience primarily made up of quirky girls and flamboyant boys, but padded out with thirtysomething couples who sway along to the soft-pink spectacle, smiling and giggling.

So what's Marina's key appeal? Well, she has a whole bunch of them tonight, actually. If she was an equation, she'd be "Like A Virgin"-era Madonna, plus Kate Bush, minus pretension, multiplied by access to Doris Day's old wardrobe, divided by a disco beat. Her voice is flawless and has an enormous range, as is evidenced on "Lies" -- a song so seeped in betrayal and raw emotion, some of those flamboyant boys we mentioned earlier shed tears.

And Marina is so convincing and so charming, so gosh-darn-it talented, she can be a Welsh woman singing the lyrics to "Hollywood" ("Living in a movie scene, puking American dreams, I'm obsessed with the mess that's America") to a room full of Americans and offend no one. She can move seamlessly from a thumping dance beat -- the bass is so loud on finale "Radioactive" that the chairs upstairs physically move -- straight into a piano ballad encore, ("Teen Idle") before switching to an almost operatic rendition of "Fear and Loathing." 

Andrew Lopez
Not only that, but her manner with her audience is so warm and down-to-earth and gracious throughout, you are able to forget that she's dressed like a beauty queen most of the set. And it's also worth mentioning that despite her very obvious beauty and very tiny waist and very flawless appearance, her uniqueness is such that, if this were high school, she'd appeal more to the misfits than the cheerleaders (even if she does wave a pom-pom during "Hollywood").

Despite all the theatrics of the evening, Marina never once seems disengaged with her audience -- even when she's reclining on a chaise lounge at the back of the stage during "Starring Role." She is clearly thrilled to be here. She grins throughout "I am Not a Robot," giggles with her fans between and during songs, and indulges in some in-jokes that go down incredibly well -- one of which involves a toy poodle named Marilyn who "is a crack addict" (the fake dog appeared in the video for "Primadonna" earlier this year).

In short, there's really nothing else like Marina & the Diamonds live. It's beautiful and kooky and cartoonish and theatrical. It's pop and melodrama intermingled until you don't know the difference. It's thousands of people all sharing in something that still feels like a bit of a secret. And tonight, it's pure, unadulterated, joyous escapism. 

Critic's Notebook

Highlights: "Bubblegum Bitch", "Obsessions", "Shampain" 

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Location Info


The Fillmore

1805 Geary, San Francisco, CA

Category: Music

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