“Why do you like Marina?” my friend asked the two 15-year-old girls standing behind us, half an hour before the show started. “She’s perfect,” one of them said. “Everything about her is just, perfect.” Packed tight on the floor of Oakland’s Fox Theater stood hundreds of her fans, eagerly waiting for her to take the stage. On her third tour, Marina and the Diamonds put on a show unlike any other.
The concert was divided into three acts, one for each of her albums. “Each era has such a defined look that it didn’t make sense for me to mix them,” she explains in an interview with The Bay Bridged. “It felt good to put it into three acts. I don’t think that often happens in alternative shows.” Starting with her debut album The Family Jewels (2010), Marina performed about five or six songs from each record, and each act had its own look. In the first act, she donned a shiny pink leotard coupled with matching flare pants and mouse ears; in the second, she moved to a bright pink jumpsuit, with hearts along her legs; the third and final act showed her in a glitter indigo jumpsuit, complete with a cherry headband. These defined looks extended past the stage into the audience, as well. Half the crowd had the Electra Heart (2012) look: pastel pink, headband, heart on left cheek; while the other opted for her latest album Froot (2015): bright colors and several fruit-themed head pieces.
The way the show was set up made it much more personal. At many shows, the majority of the setlist is from the artist’s latest album, which makes sense. But with the Neon Nature Tour, the evening was divided evenly among the albums, and the audience got to see this evolution within a span of hours. The screens that stood behind her on stage featured additional photos, videos, and even emojis that went along with each song. Her band stood above, while she stood right in front of her audience, looking and singing to each person individually. And this only brought her fans more into her world.
That’s another thing about her fans — they are fiercely loyal. When Marina said “jump” the crowd was already up. Within the first two notes of each song everyone was already screaming the words to it. The “I love you!”s started hours before she even came on stage, and didn’t seem to end even after she left. Every single person in that room left in awe of her voice, personality, and performance. Long-time fans couldn’t get over the fact they had seen their idol live, while newer fans screamed about how perfect she was.
“She’s an angel but she’s one of us,” I heard a voice say at the end of the show, vocalizing something that seems to resonate among everyone that has seen her live. Her bright pink jumpsuits and glitter cherry headband only added to her ethereal voice and self; and yet, although I was surrounded by hundreds of people, it was one of the most intimate shows I’ve ever been to. With each song she would make eye contact with as many people in the crowd as possible, singing to and for them.
Maybe it was the Betty Boop clips playing on a loop during “Obsessions,” or maybe it was the fact that every single person in the audience was able to sing every lyric to each song without fail… this was a concert that will be hard to forget.
Article and photos by Leka Gopal