Marina and the Diamonds / Young the Giants
Opera House, Toronto ON September 8
By Whitney Tam
Marina and the Diamonds (she is Marina Diamandis and her fans are the “diamonds”) has already established herself as an up-and-coming pop artist in her native UK, selling out shows and garnering a nomination for this year’s coveted BRIT Critic’s Choice award. With her first gig in Canada and her only stop in the country this tour at Toronto’s Opera House, Marina showcased the best The Family Jewels had to offer.
It would be easy to say that California’s Young the Giant are your typical indie rock band, but their lush arrangements, catchy guitar licks, and infectious energy were right on point to get the crowd hyped for Marina and the Diamond’s set.
The stunning raven-haired Brit sauntered on stage with a deadpan stare, shades, and an air of mystique that immediately commanded the full attention of the audience. She and her four-piece band opened the show with the appropriate “you-think-you-know-me-but-you-really-don’t” track, “The Outsider,” a sort of invitation to fans to really get to know Marina during the stretch of the show. Fan favourites like “I Am Not A Robot” and “Shampain” had the usually stiff Toronto crowd of 20-somethings jumping up and down and singing along word for word, while solo, piano-accompanied performances of “Numb” and “Obsessions” highlighted her unique brand of vocals (which are now stronger, steadier, and much improved).
Midway through the set, the band jammed to an instrumental build-up until Marina reappeared decked out in the infamous all-American letter jacket, dollar-sign glasses, and two (stuffed toy) burgers, signalling the jump into “Hollywood”―a humorous take on the starry-eyed, tabloid-obsessed society that is America.
Drilling through 12 of the 13 witty, radio-friendly tracks off her debut release, The Family Jewels, the show ended with a fitting two-song encore that summed up what separates Marina and the Diamonds from the never-ending crop of pop artists: her ability to flip pop culture on its head and create something new, honest, and unexpected. Stripped down to only a simple piano melody, she transformed 3OH!3’s raunchy “Starstrukk” lyrics into a subdued ballad (that if not executed properly could have been disastrous; luckily it wasn’t) and ended the night with chirpy “Mowgli’s Road,” the first single off her debut.
A true performer in all respects, Marina and the Diamonds put on a show that kept the audience captivated from start to finish, questionable dance moves and all. The entire set was laced with her distinct falsetto and signature high-pitched howls, yelps, wails, and cuckoos, and proved that she isn’t afraid to be quirky. Like she said in “Hollywood,” she isn’t Shakira or Catharine Zeta; she’s Marina. And her Diamonds were sparkling with her all night long.
This review was originally published on Exclaim.ca.
Despite Scottish singer, Paolo Nutini, not being as well known here as he is across the pond, the Opera House opened to a surprisingly sold out crowd. His demographic seems to be college-age girls and middle-aged women (who also dragged along husbands and boyfriends). I guess that goes to show that a handsome musician with an accent will make just about any girl swoon at any age.
To open the show was Matt Hires, a singer-songwriter with boyish good looks and a good voice. But “good” is nothing too special. The best song he performed wasn’t even written by him, but a cover of MGMT’s “Kids”.
Erin McCarley, most known for her songs featured on TV shows like One Tree Hill and Grey’s Anatomy, was the second opening artist. She was alot better live than I expected and played a half hour set which included her popular songs “Pony (It’s Okay)” and “Love, Save the Empty”. But then again, popular is a relative term as many people in the venue didn’t seem to know or care who she was – talking through her entire set.
Therefore, a little tip: If you’re an artist who wants to get noticed, Paolo Nutini might not be the best artist to open for – his fans don’t seem very receptive.
At around 10 PM, Paolo Nutini finally took to the stage to perform to a crowd of restless and seemingly sexually frustrated bra-throwing girls. He immediately commanded the stage with his soul-gutting performances and powerful vocals, but his stage banter was seriously lacking – and when he did attempt a little conversation, his accent was so thick us Canadians had no way of understanding. However, that didn’t seem to bother his lovestruck audience who beamed from ear to ear, not even trying to hide their silly little schoolgirl crushes. Nutini had the crowd hanging on his every word and singing along with every song, not missing a beat. So, if you’re not too familiar with his lyrics – study up, my friend – or you’ll be the only one left standing there all shifty-eyed clapping along and pretending to sing along all the while hoping he never holds the mic up to your lips. There’s no denying that Nutini knows how to put on one hell of a show, but it’s his off-stage persona that really leave a bad taste in your mouth. You would think that after a sold-out concert, he would want to stay a while to thank his fans. But no – instead he make a run for his tour bus and slams the door without even a second look leaving many girls broken-hearted. If you go to a Paolo Nutini concert expecting a show – one energy-charged charged show you’ll get – but if you’re expecting to get a little meet and greet with your favourite artist, you can expect to leave disappointed.
Paolo Nutini fans are hardcore. Devout followers; there is rarely ever an in-between (in my experience). If however, you just happen to fall into the latter, be prepared to fight your way though an obnoxiously rude crowd. Oh, and apparently smoking is a prerequisite. I guess someone forgot to send me the memo.