Marina and the Diamonds, Tabernacle, London


David Hillier
Monday 02 July 2012 18:12

Who is the real Marina Diamandis? Is she the emancipated songstress from her debut; the girl who stepped off the quirky bus driven by Regina Spektor? Or is she the archetypal, commercial paradox of her recent album, where she delved even further into the complexities of womanhood? Her apparent glee and fortitude at being both perhaps show that her talents belong on the pedestal of a theatre rather than at a gig.

At a very humid Tabernacle, the stage is even reminiscent of a set; the central atrium is a bedroom, complete with chaise longue, heart-shaped pillow and the name of Marina's alter-ego, "Electra Heart", buzzing overhead in pink neon. It is this version of Marina that arrives in pink skirt and bridal veil before launching into "Homewrecker" and throwing confetti on the besotted crowd.

Musical alter-egos are historically hit and miss. For every iconic Ziggy Stardust there is a banal MacPhisto. Electra Heart is the musical and physical offspring of a conceptual look at the anti-female on the album that bears her name. She certainly makes for a fun show, full of props and costume adornments, but it is one devoid of integrity. "Lies", for example, is a personal song about rejection, yet it loses its resonance because of the facade.

But let's not detract from the songs and voice of Marina. Despite a hit-and-miss portfolio of music, she chooses a strong set. One high point of her gigs will always be "I Am Not a Robot", but a few others stand out too. A sweeping "Fear and Loathing" recalls Florence Welch in her pomp, while Goldfrapp would approve of the disco-heavy "Shampain". "Starring Role" utilises the chaise longue and conjures up the imagery of David Lynch's Mulholland Drive, with shades of yearning and failure, culminating in the sort of crescendo that Marina relishes.

There are two types of performance: being who the audience want you to be or giving your real self to them. Marina dishes herself on a plate to her "Diamonds", but only through a contrived filter of faux expressionism. In hindsight, the singer was manufacturing herself to an audience for a long time before Electra Heart was born, but then her fans do form part of her stage name after all. Only time will tell if she will yet lose these precious commodities to her career aspirations.

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