It’s been just under two years since Marina and the Diamonds last lit up the stage of a Dublin venue, when a capacity crowd packed out Vicar Street to witness the final stages of her evolution from much-hyped darling of the internet into polished popstar of the highest order. Then, it was the seemingly endless string of quirky indie-pop singles from debut album The Family Jewels that stole the show. Now, she’s got a whole new arsenal of hits at her disposal – the somewhat euphoric dance-pop leanings of the follow up Electra Heart, a concept album upon which Marina uses an alter-ego as titled to explore themes of love, rejection, and crisis of identity with a brutally honest yet tongue-in-cheek lyrical approach, delivered with the might of that ever-distinctive voice. Now, the neon-tinged backdrop for ‘The Lonely Hearts Club Tour’ is set in The Olympia Theatre – at last, an opportunity to see how it all plays out live.
A band of five dapperly dressed session musicians take to the stage in advance of the leading lady making her entrance – a picture of 1960s-esque glamour in a black and bubblegum pink two-piece and bouffant hairdo. Whereas her last show felt stilted by too many costume changes, tonight’s show flows effortlessly as Marina stays in situ for the majority of it whilst working with an array of props on the hat-stand of her makeshift on-stage boudoir. The band, backdrop and props are all well and good, but without a doubt the main draw here tonight is Marina’s incredible voice. It has grown in might, yet been reigned in to be more controlled – the result being a powerful vocal performance, throughout which she hardly falters. She’s not short on backing-singers either, as her adoring fans who queued outside the venue from early in the day are more than happy to lend their voices in a word-for-word sing-a-long.
The pulsing beats of ‘Homewrecker’ open the show with a bang, Marina’s verbalised verses giving an early insight of the concept she has created with both the album and tour. The Family Jewels favourites ‘Mowgli’s Road’, ‘Oh No!’, and ‘I Am Not A Robot’ are churned out in quick succession early on; the focus is very much on Electra Heart and that is fine by us. Highlights include ‘Power & Control’ is a storming-slice of dance pop – that pulsing passage of bass on the verses is cranked up to eleven for the occasion; the musical theatre roots of ‘State of Dreaming’ sound impossibly vibrant in spite of the song’s misery-laden lyrics; and the re-arrangement of the album’s standout ‘Starring Role’ works very well, subdued verses sang atop a chaise longue before an emphatic full-band backed middle-eight and dramatic final chorus. Both ‘Primadonna’ and ‘Radioactive’ send the audience into near rapture as the floor comes alive and limbs fly in every direction. There’s even a chance to appreciate Marina flying solo and presiding over a piano for stripped back renditions of ‘Teen Idle’ and the always exquisite ‘Obsessions’.
It’s quite impressive that with only two albums in her discography she can command constant attention for a full 90 minutes – there are no dull moments, and plenty of variation. “I just love it so much everytime I come to Ireland”, she declares in a genuine expression of thanks to the capacity crowd, “you’re such a f*cking brilliant audience!” Well, Marina – you’re not so bad yourself.