It’s a mere three months or so since Best Fit last caught Marina and the Diamonds delivering her Froot Sundae extravaganza at the Palladium and tonight (21 February) we come to see her again for FROOT’s final live outing, as the consummate entertainer brings the world tour she’s undertaken for the best part of the past year to a close.
Marina Diamandis refers to tonight as the final show, although - technically speaking - there is one more date left in Belgium later on in the week, but the message is clear: this is the last time London gets to see Marina and the Diamonds live for a while and, if you go by the average album and tour cycles, this potentially means her return to the stage won’t be before 2018.
With a pretty much sold-out two night residency at The Roundhouse, it is either a case of fans loving the Palladium show so much that they can’t get enough or, alternatively, testament to the size of Diamandis’s following: the venue is jam packed and the atmosphere is electrifying.
As the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, and tonight – with the exception of the addition of recent album track, "Solitaire" - Diamandis sticks to the same set-list used for the Palladium performance, spread across the same three acts – one for each of her studio albums, The Family Jewels, Electra Heart and FROOT.
It may be the choice of songs from the albums which ultimately determines each act’s overall impact in the live setting but the punch of Diamandis’s debut, The Family Jewels, is without doubt the evening’s stellar highlight. That is not to say that things necessarily go downhill from then on but the five cuts from Diamandis’s 2010 long-player really make for an invaluable lesson in how to write near-perfect pop songs. Her performance of them, in a dazzling outfit which can best be described as Jessica Rabbit meets Minnie Mouse, is inimitable.
Moreover, if at any given moment you were to pull the fuse so that Diamandis’s mic went off, the audience’s sing-along to every lyric would easily sustain these tracks, such is their popularity and secure placement in the singer’s repertoire. On "I Am Not A Robot", for example, the crowd’s chant of the lyrics from the very beginning of the first verse almost overpowers Diamandis’s own vocal. Elsewhere in this segment you are reminded of just how baffling it is that a track like "Oh No!" was not Number 1 for weeks and weeks or that "Obsessions" hasn’t won an Ivor Novello.
Unlike my esteemed Best Fit co-contributor, Ed Nash, who attended the Palladium gig at the end of last year, I am a big fan of Diamandis’s second album, Electra Heart, but its representation in tonight’s set leaves me a tad lukewarm, when pitted against the show’s first act.
The second segment opens with "Bubblegum Bitch", a frenetic and ridiculously fun stomper, but you’re only half paying attention to the music because it is impossible not to stare at Diamandis and her beguiling second costume, a pink spray-on body hugger that flatters its owner from every angle. It's followed by "Teen Idle", which fans go crazy for, and then "How to Be a Heartbreaker" – surprisingly, another recipient of much adulation tonight. I say surprisingly as, with a record whose album-era boasted a lot of additional, 'extra-curricular' tracks, "How to be a Heartbreaker" was one of the diminishing returns of the campaign and its slot would have been better served here – from my perspective, at least – by Electra Heart’s second single ‘proper’, the conspicuously absent "Power & Control".
For the evening’s closing section, Diamandis and her band bring to life nine of the songs from 2015’s David Kosten co-produced FROOT. As an album which appears to have earned the popstar a significant number of new followers, it is one which is also helped by being heard live, in terms of ingratiating itself on new ears.
The third act’s best moments are FROOT’s title-track, which calls to mind a summer’s love-affair reminisced over in a cold winter, and "I’m A Ruin", a song that is both intelligent and full of hooks, and whose live rendition enhances its studio version with an extra layer of magnetism.
The evening finishes with crowd-pleaser, "Blue", not before Diamandis takes a moment to acknowledge fans’ support over the past few years, reminding us: “I am Marina and you are the diamonds”. She gets tearful at the love being beamed back at her and, presumably, the inevitable hiatus that is bound to ensue with this album era now being put to bed. But it all ends on a positive note as Diamandis reassures everyone that this is not goodbye forever. Which is just as well because tonight’s show cannot but leave you with a taste for more.
I Am Not a Robot
How to Be a Heartbreaker
Can't Pin Me Down
I'm a Ruin