Kristina Miltiadou is generating quite the buzz in the music industry, and she appears on stage in a contemporary take on a white traditional Greek tunic – her hair bedecked in a crown of white carnations like a modern day Aphrodite – backed by a crack band who add blissful harmonies to her quirky, uplifting pop. Her classically trained voice recalls the range of Kate Bush and the jazzy sass of Amy Winehouse, the vocal dynamics dominating but never overwhelming the summery pop tunes which could rival Lily Allen at her best. The jaunty pop of ‘Stepping Stone’ is lapped up by the crowd, while a cover of Kings of Leon’s ‘Milk’ takes the cod-country stomp of the original and turns it into a joyous outing of Caribbean inspired pop, the increasingly attentive crowd swaying along to the calypso feel. The epic pop of ‘Carousel’ sees the crowd join in with a sea of arms clapping along and the exuberant applause for the set marks her as an act to watch.
Marina Diamandis takes to the stage solo, with stark keys illuminating ‘The Family Jewels’, before being joined on stage by her black clad male backing band for the dramatic conclusion of the song. ‘Seventeen’ begins with a jaunty barrel organ rhythm, before baring its claws with its kiss off of ‘well you don’t know fuck about my family’ demonstrating an antagonistic streak beneath the Punky Brewster meets Kim Wilde stage persona of Diamandis. Live, Marina & The Diamonds are a revelation, purely driven by the songs and Diamandis’ personality which has the crowd – male and female, gay and straight – all swooning at her feet. The show is at times raw compared to her big theatre production in the UK, with sequenced backing vocals; however it is the lack of production necessitated by bringing only the band to Australia which allows her personality and remarkable vocal range to shine through. While the music may derive from the poppier moments of Depeche Mode and even Madonna, the fierce ambition of the latter is tempered with an almost homely persona as she addresses the crowd as if they were friends in her lounge room. This is well received by fans and the amazing gifts she is presented with as she does a meet and greet with them after the show (including an incredibly lifelike oil on canvas portrait and a ceramic jug on which someone has glazed her image) are testament to this incredible ability to connect with a vast range of fans.
‘I Am Not A Robot’ takes on a new life live, becoming a call to arms rather than a surly statement, while her Greek heritage is acknowledged, taking compliments in the language from the audience before telling one cheeky punter that she’ll ‘get her Dad to whoop your arse’ for yelling out something rude in Greek. ‘Obsessions’ with Diamandis solo on the keys for its introduction of ‘Sunday, wake up, give me a cigarette/Last night’s love affair is looking vulnerable in my bed’ invokes the heartfelt dilemma of many a morning after, before the band returns to the stage to join her for what becomes a stadium sized torch song desperately reaching out beyond the confines of a theatre venue. She brings the pop poms out for the bittersweet yet unadulterated pop of ‘Shampain’ which effortlessly sees the venue with arms aloft clapping along. Punters are treated to a rendition of relatively new and unreleased song ‘Jealousy’, while it is the exquisite torch song beauty of ‘Guilty’ with its heartbreakingly honest ‘Guilty on the run/And I know what I have done’ refrain that sends many a bottom lip in the crowd trembling. It’s epic pop that merely needs a chamber orchestra, stadium and sea of lighters to complete its vision.
Returning to the stage in an All American cheerleader outfit emblazoned with the word ‘Marina’ spelled out on the back, bearing a novelty sized hamburger toy for the pop epiphany of ‘Hollywood’, Diamandis cleverly marries deft lyrical pop culture references in a manner both sly and celebratory. The audience euphoria is unsurprising, rejoicing at music and performance both arch and knowing, yet inclusive and welcoming; the fourth wall removed for the hour and a half she is on stage. It’s also unlikely, given a reception like this, that Australian audiences will see her in such a small venue again in a hurry – Marina’s Diamonds are sparkling Down Under.
– Jim Murray