Taking her Neon Nature tour on the road, Marina Diamandis – perhaps better known as Marina and the Diamonds to her fans – has stirred up a fairly glittery state of affairs at Belfast’s Limelight for tonight’s show. Marina’s admiring crowd, many imitating her signature heart drawn on her cheek, eagerly await the songstress to take to the stage of the packed venue.
However, kicking things off for the night are Wyvern Lingo, and all-girl trio from Wicklow. The band’s sound is summery, characterised by pounding drums and danceable pop rock with a harmonious, melodic edge. Their fun energy feels entirely appropriate support for tonight’s headliner and, without indulging the cliché, their powerful blend of pop rock makes them a totally kick-ass trio. Some key tracks include the “groovy” pulsing bass of “Money”, and also “Pleasure Island”, written in retaliation to the presentation of women in hip-hop, a genre of which the girls are big fans.
Drummer Caoimhe Barry sarcastically thanks for the audience for “watching us when you could have been talking to each other”, but she needn’t worry as the crowd takes well to the band and their incredible chemistry; watching them on stage you feel that they’re having just as much fun performing as they would jamming on their own. As the energy in the room is now buzzing the main act, the catchy hook of the band’s latest single “Subside” fills the room and they can leave confident that they’ve won over many new fans.
Emerging from a sea of blue steam in a pink body suit and diamanté mouse ears, Marina begins her set with “Mowgli’s Road” and “I Am Not a Robot”, dancing sultrily amongst her glitzy space age stage props. The crowd’s loving reception can’t stop the songstress from breaking the odd smile amongst her unashamedly girly show.
Ever the effortless performer, she announces Neon Nature presented in three acts, one for each of her albums so far. Aptly, then, she launches into a throwback to her first ever single, “Obsessions”, in a rather stripped-back rendition at her keyboard under the pink fairy lights. Everything about Marina and the Diamonds’ punky synthpop is dripping in attitude, not unlike her friend and contemporary Charli XCX; “Hollywood” is cute and theatrical, exploring the issues of teen suburbia in the most sensational way possible, her all-male band clad in black silk shirts adoringly in tow.
A single microphone stand lights up the stage as part two – Electra Heart – commences. Returning from one of many outfit changes tonight, her pink catsuit with cut-out hearts stirs up the sweaty intimacy of the venue as a punchy “Bubblegum Bitch” commands mass singalongs. Marina dedicates “Teen Idle” to all her teenage fans before jokingly backtracking – “Wait, this is an over 18 venue, right?”. Nevertheless, the song about the glamour of rebellion and wasted youth, which perfectly encapsulates the ethos of Marina and the Diamonds, gets underway.
As the singers struts about the stage in her pink cape, you can’t help but be reminded of Britney’s look in “Oops!… I Did It Again” and the new generation of girl power that Marina represents. Clutching her alter ego Electra Heart’s toy dog Marilyn, Marina asks if we’d like some lessons in love before driving the crowd wild with fan favourite “How to Be a Heartbreaker”, ahead of the electrifying bass and strobe lights of her album’s title track demanding everyone’s undivided attention.
Whilst Marina’s latest offering Froot wasn’t a hit with all critics, that is certainly not the case with tonight’s audience as she reappears with the album’s title emblazoned above her head. “I’ve been saving all my summers for you,” she chants on lead single “Froot”, the unchallenged queen of atmospheric electropop.
Her galactic stage set-up as she sings “Savages” illuminates the enticing chanteuse, whilst she encourages fans to sing “like you mean it” in her almost husky tone, and always leaving them wanting more. The encore sees an emotional version of “Happy” as she is gradually rejoined by her band against the twinkling backdrop of lights. However, in more true Marina style, she goes out with a bang as balloons rain down over the audience during a gorgeous and unapologetically self-indulgent performance of “Blue”.
On one of her biggest hits “Primadonna”, Marina sings “Living life like I’m in a plane / In the limelight I want to stay” and, judging by tonight’s show, her performance in Belfast’s Limelight will stay with the audience as one of the coolest they’ve ever been to.