Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Marina and the Diamonds @ HMV Forum , London 90/11/2010

Rightly indentified by the BBC as an artist to watch in 2010, I was looking forward to seeing Marina play her debut album – one of the year's best pop records – live. I and her other fans in the audience were not disappointed as she rattled through the album, plus a new tune – Jealousy - (a bit too La Roux for my liking), managing a couple of costume changes along the way.

Kicking off with The Family Jewels and The Outsider, and rolling through the show stopper Hollywood 75 minutes later the band: Drummer, bass players and two Keyboard/Synth players immediately rose to the task, as Marina herself strutted the stage like a woman born to perform. Oh, and the voice, just sounded great live, especially in quieter moments – such as first encore song Numb - when she could really showed off her inner Amanda Palmer/Lena Lovich quality.

Indeed it all sounded great. An therein lay the problem for me. Maybe it's due to my age, I don't know, but I couldn't help being disappointed by the decision to used tracked backing vocals for every song. Yes, it meant that the band to recreate almost flawless renditions of the songs off the album, but by the end of the set, it had left me cold and taken away much of the genuine personality and stage craft that Marina possesses. Of course, people will say, well, Queen used to use backtracked vocals when doing Bohemian Rhapsody live, A fair point, but it was for one song in a 2 hour set. It wasn't the default position.

She certainly doesn't need – as some modern artists do – to hide behind the backing track. I would have preferred to have seen her try some songs without the tracked vocals altogether, or if still want the backing vocals there, then ask the band to handle some backing vocals or maybe to get a couple of people back of stage doing so (and yes, I also know it is cheaper not to hire extra people) All these would have helped to make the 'live' experience more different from the 'studio' experience.

I think Marina is a hugely talented performer. I love the album, so I loved hearing the songs live, and it WAS a good gig, but for the most part I could have easily just have been sat at home listening to the CD. I'm sorry, I am old fashioned, I quite like things to sound a bit different live than on record. I hope one day Marina is brave enough to back her own talent and do so. If she does, I'll be first in the queue for tickets, until then, I'm not sure I would be back for seconds.