Onstage at The Masonic in October 2019, MARINA epitomized what it meant to be a performer. There’s no hint of nervousness, no sign of apprehensiveness. Fully confident, she grips onto the attention of the audience, commanding it without a second thought. She punctuates the new era of her artistry in a show meant to reiterate her status as a pop icon.
Marina and the Diamonds has become a memorable figure in many people’s adolescence. Her iconic songs and dramatic style are still fresh in our minds. It’s easy to recall the lyrics to “Primadonna,” or sing along as she instructs listeners on the secrets at the game of love in “How to Be a Heartbreaker.” For someone who has defined pop culture in innumerable ways, it was jarring when she dropped the “and the Diamonds” from her stage moniker.
With her new album “Love + Fear” released in tandem with her persona’s transformation, there was anticipation in what direction her music would be taking. Yet, the album was met with average reviews, finding it less biting than her previous works’ often honest look at topics like womanhood and mental health.
The thing with Marina’s performances is that they are dangerously addicting. Putting on a show is second nature to the artist, and watching her perform is like watching someone completely in their element.
The opening act, Allie X, was meant to be dark and brooding, was overwhelmed by the signature rich colors and contagious eccentricity that is Marina. She oscillates the abilities of her skills to an undeniably excited audience. No one in the room is particularly occupied with her album’s performance.
Reality is faded in the background, only Marina’s performance at the forefront of viewers’ minds. Even with her brand new era, fans are able to traverse through the realms of nostalgia and recent music with ease. She splits the show in two parts of “Love” and “Fear,” exploring catchy, radio-ready tracks with her darker repertoire.
Marina seemed emboldened with every cheer and squeal the audience treated her with. It’s a show chock-full with her immense talent with each transition between each track.
“Handmade Heaven” showcases sharp choreography and air flowing through her hair. She was elevated on the stage, a twinkling background illuminated like the stars of the night is framing her. All of the details put into her performance makes her appear as though she was an ethereal being, and not just a singer performing a stop on her tour at 10 p.m.
“Hollywood” which has her clad with pompoms, a colorful set punctuated with her confident steps and unwavering vocals. Moments like these are representative of how easily she is able to be herself on stage, having fun without a care in the world.
In the “Fear” part of her show, she cheerily chants “Feeling super, super, super suicidal” during “Teen Idle,” with the crowd following and repeating the lyrics. The show, as a whole, is like a look back to her career’s hits, rather than focusing solely on her current work.
She brought back songs from “Electra Heart,” and fans were intensely enthused. “Bubblegum b*****s on top, song is for you,” she announces before launching into one of the most iconic tracks in her album, “Bubblegum B***h.”
“I knew she was going to do this!” someone from the crowd screamed at the top of their lungs after she announced she was performing her unreleased track “I’m Not Hungry Anymore.” Someone else immediately hushes the dissident fan. The sound of Marina’s voice silences the crowd automatically, who preferred to enable the flashlight on their phones.
The audience is in unison with their admiration, “It’s nice to see your faces,” she revealed, her angelic laugh breathing life into the crowd. She is able to put on a complex show with elaborate dance numbers while still clinging onto an intimate audience experience.
She introduces her drummer, keyboardist, and backup dancers like she’s talking to old friends. During “I Am Not a Robot” she asks the crowd for “backing vocal help.” Everyone is committed to the role, much to her delight. She smiled as she remarked that the crowd had “perfect backing vocals.”
She thanks the San Francisco crowd, promising to “cure you of the suckers of your life, those who do you no good,” during “No More Suckers.” As if the audience was trained under her spell, they were so genuinely happy dancing along to the sound of her voice. At the end of the night, she bowed down, desperately waving goodbye, as though she didn’t want to leave.
It goes without saying that moments of changing yourself, rebirthing a persona is rare. that there is no bitterness towards her old persona. Instead, it’s like Marina is simply ushering in a new age of her work. Her show is a work of art, highlighting her strength as an artist and performer. At the same time, it’s a look back at a career marked by success and authenticity, one that has won over a base of loyal fans.