I was at Manchester Apollo last week to shoot Marina’s (formerly” and The Diamonds”) show to support her latest album, the profoundly beautiful and empowering “Ancient Dreams In A Modern Land.” It’s an album which sees Marina Diamandis journey into the realm of the divine feminine and arrive back with some of the best songs she’s ever written. It’s a bold mixture of sociopolitical pop, rock and heartfelt, emotionally raw ballads distilling everything that has previously made her one of the UK’s most compelling pop artists, into one near-perfect package.
This blog has championed her since the very early days when she was releasing demos and selling CDs via Myspace (and I still have the CD-R of Mermaid vs Sailor and no, I’m not selling it 😉 ). From the get-go it was obvious there was something special about her, she was a unique talent with a unique way of thinking. You can read an early Q and A with us HERE from 2009 in which Marina reveals the first single she bought ( clue: It’s “pretty fly”) and her first album.
Despite her phenomenal success, earned with very little radio play or TV, she’s occasionally still referred to as “underrated”. But in what sense? Measuring her career by the myopic barometer of “mainstream success” isn’t a particularly good fit. Given the fractured nature of pop culture, what actually does mainstream mean these days? It certainly isn’t the only way to sustain a successful career of artistic creative endeavour. It’s also something Marina hasn’t actively perused, despite industry pressure, preferring to walk her own path. She’s said in the past she had no interest in “kissing industry arse,” writing for radio AirPlay or having her individuality reigned in. After all, she’s not a robot, right?
A far better measure of success is the artistic freedom she’s enjoyed throughout her career, supported by a hugely passionate fan base who were out in force tonight forming one of the longest and most sartorial elegant queues I’ve seen at a gig for a long time.
Marina has carved her own niche, occupying a unique space between Art pop and chart pop, and is often quoted by a whole range of up and coming female musicians as an inspirational figure. There’s always been a luminous realness to Marina, which is hard to hide behind a fake pop persona making her an artist that the press has always found difficult to categorise. And it’s that realness and her ability to write hugely engaging pop tunes with eminently quotable lyrics that have made her the artist she is. Tonight’s show demonstrated that she still has the ability to shine and shimmer as brightly as any diamond. Support came from the excellent Maeve and Tove Styrke.