Marina & the Diamonds was greeted by a rapturous crowd at the Commodore last Saturday night. It had been three years since the Welsh singer played in Vancouver, and her fans had obviously been counting down the days to her triumphant return. Touring on the back of her newly released album, Froot, Marina has ditched the bleach blonde hair and pastiche of her previous album, Electra Heart, and returned to her indie pop roots. This show felt like a celebration of her evolution as an artist, which meant a night full of her best hits from her three albums.
French act Christine & the Queens provided support and received an uncharacteristically warm welcome from a Vancouver crowd. Christine is obviously a star in the making. With stringy brown hair and dressed in a simple black suit, Christine exudes effortless French cool while also coming across as humble and charming. It’s like your geeky art school friend secretly has amazing pipes and the dance stylings of Michael Jackson. She even delivered the perfect pop cultural moment of the night by covering a snippet of “Hotline Bling” by Drake.
Marina Diamandis certainly knows how to make an entrance. She stormed the stage dressed like a glittering, intergalactic superhero in a purple, skin-tight catsuit and two enormous jewels perched on her head. It felt like a greatest hits tour as Marina and her band started off with the best songs from her Family Jewels era: “Obsessions”, “Hollywood”, “I am not a Robot”... The crowd lapped it up and sang along to every single word. The band played with high intensity and looked like they were soaking up the adoring vibe from their fans.
After a quick costume change into another tight pink number, Marina had transformed into Electra Heart. This was the character that her second album was based around. Electra Heart was a bottle blonde exploration of fame and the dark side of the American Dream. This portion of the night brought lots of straightforward pop bangers including “How to Be a Heartbreaker”, “Radioactive”, and “Primadonna Girl”.
Even Marina’s fluffiest songs contain her characteristically whip-smart lyrics. She manages to pack more emotionally honest and memorable lines than most. She is not afraid to look at the depressing side of life and often shares dark thoughts that we have but don’t want to expose. This lyrical honesty is abundantly apparent on Froot. Against a dreamy soundscape, Marina explores the ugly grey parts of relationships, identity, and life, the kind of selfish feeling when you have decided to leave someone but you are not ready to lose the comfort of the relationship: “No, I don’t love you / No, I don’t care / I just want to be held when I’m scared.” It’s not pretty, but it’s more introspection than you usually find in a pop song.
She finished off the night dressed in a flowing acid green outfit with the neon pink word “froot” spelled out as a crown. Marina looked self-assured, regal, and happy to be onstage. She delivered strong vocals, kick-ass energy, and audience engagement. The band was tight, and the visuals perfectly matched the music. Marina & the Diamonds was definitely worth the wait. Hopefully. it won’t be another three years until we see her next incarnation.