MARINA @ O2 Academy, Glasgow, 30 Apr

Marina Diamandis' new stage show has undergone a major evolution and is dedicated to pure pop

Live Review by Max Sefton | 09 May 2019

After a lengthy break since 2015’s Froot, marked mainly by a truly appalling track with Clean Bandit and Luis Fonsi, Marina Diamandis is back and she’s shed her 'and the Diamonds' for a Madonna-style mononym, now going as simply MARINA. Leaving the piano ballads and heart-on-sleeve introspection of Froot behind, her new record Love + Fear tackles the big issues facing the planet today, over shiny pop productions that glitter and gleam.

To complement this new material, her stage show has undergone a major evolution, with a quartet of dancers and drummers replacing her usual band onstage. From the outset, this is a show dedicated to pure pop, with a party playlist pumping out Ariana Grande, Rihanna and more replacing the traditional support slot.

Opening with Love + Fear standout Handmade Heaven, her irrepressible breakthrough hit Hollywood, and Primadonna from 2012’s Electra Heart, this version of MARINA delivers belted choruses and cute dance moves. MARINA's quartet of fellow performers flit between ballet, modern dance and backing vocals, plus occasional cello and drums over the course of the hour-and-a-half set.

Not every new track is a success. While the ever-so-earnest To Be Human manages to tread a fine line between universality and sentimentality, the Balearic beats of Orange Trees feel featherweight and the spectacle of the dancers can easily overwhelm the weaker material. Nevertheless the Welsh-Greek singer has built a devoted following for a reason and when the songs land, they splash enormous smiles like rainbows across her audience’s faces, most notably on a technicolour blast through Savages – screamed sample lyric 'I’m not afraid of God, I am afraid of man' – and closing electro banger How to be a Heartbreaker.

It may be a slightly different MARINA for her fans to get used to, but in Glasgow she’s found a lot of love.