Hamptons is a cracking little venue, which seems to attract a mellow crowd of asymmetrical haircut indie emo students, as well as a cross section of non mainstream music lovers. It was particularly pleasing to see that the management had eschewed the usual design by numbers 'sophisticated' pre club bar makeover, usually lifted off the pages of Wallpaper magazine, for a much more eye catching classic album cover montage, plastered over some of the walls. What can be be more satisfying than to stare at a wall, mentally ticking off each old school gem with a mumble of "got this, got that" whilst supping dodgy lager from a plastic glass? However, just to set the record straight (crappy pun intended) this little parlour game didn't extend to owning the Bruce Willis or Leo Sayer albums.
Date: 26th February 2009
Location: Southampton Venue: Hamptons
Marina and the Diamonds have been hotly tipped in the music meedja (Arena and Dazed &Confused coverage) as well as sparking off plenty of positive blog chatter, she also sparkled with enough promise to be placed in the coveted "Scratchy's Twelve Grooves of Christmas" back in December. read more here
This talented lady has now embarked on a short tour promotional the debut single, a double A side, called Obsessions/Mowgli's World which is now available on pre-order via Neon Gold Records with the official release day now on the 9th March 2009. She set off a bidding war from fourteen different labels and has now signed an album deal with 679 Recordings (part of the Warner label) The first stop on this tour was in Southampton, so on hearing this exciting news, I rounded up the usual suspects, Morris Chancer, Platterhorn and The Milky Bar Kid for an evening of dad dancing down at Hamptons.
We only got to catch the tail end of the final support act Arthur due to an unforeseen overrunning hair appointment incident from Mrs Chancer delaying our arrival (I bet NME writers don't have to contend with such issues) but the spirited and spiky set from them, had warmed up the crowd enough for Marina to make her entrance to a keenly anticipating throng. On a side note, the stage is curiously located, effectively in the 'shop window' which must give the impression to passers by, of a window display of fashion dummies having a party after a hard day's standing around showing off haute couture.
No one could accuse Marina of giving a static performance as she launched into an opening number 'Seventeen' with the wild abandon of Cathy calling for Heathcliff through the window. Now eagle eyed readers will spot the Wuthering Heights connection, which segways neatly into all those Kate Bush comparisons that keep popping up in reference to Marina and the Diamonds. Now there certainly is a likeness here and Hazel O'Connor/Regina Spector are also apparent, but there's a unique quality to this lady's singing voice and song writing that defies pigeon holing and bodes well for the future.
The ska/rock inflexion of the second song ‘Girls Girls Girls’ got the crowd bouncing around and this was followed by 'I Am Not A Robot' with the lead singer's energetic theatricals complemented by the backing band settling down and slipping into the groove. The tempo slowed for a passionate performance of the signature tune 'Obsessions' which engaged the waverers in the audience.
Next up was a brave and very enjoyable cover version of Gwen Stefani's 'What You Waiting For' taken from the excellent Love Angel Music Baby album. At this point Marina sized up to the microphone with those cuckoo introductory hollers that opens up 'Mowgli's Road' and got Hamptons bouncing but before we knew it, the lights went up and it was all over.
A short but splendid set of songs from a promising performer, who has the charisma to exude on the stage as well as in the studio. This year, should see Marina and the Diamonds make major strides into the affections of music fans who like classy original indie pop. The one caveat is that I hope there's plenty of new material in the pipeline and that producer Liam Howe can dig out some more songs from Marina's mine of creativity, of the calibre of the half a dozen we heard tonight, they will be needed to take her potential to the next level..
Marina and the Diamonds - Mowgli's Road - BBC Sessions
Upcoming Live Gigs
28 Feb 2009 Stealth Nottingham
01 Mar 2009 Start the Bus Bristol
24 Mar 2009 Fashion Trip ! New York U.S.A
27 Mar 2009 Vassar College (Acoustic Set) Poughkeepsie, New York U.S.A
11 Apr 2009 Get It Loud @ Lancaster Library
24 Apr 2009 Camden Crawl Camden, London
25 Apr 2009 Camden Crawl Camden, London
01 May 2009 London Callin 'Paradiso' Amsterdam
02 May 2009 Live @ Leeds
03 May 2009 Sounds from the Other City Salford
21 May 2009Stag & Dagger (Bar Music Hall) London
Arthur - http://www.myspace.com/arthurtheband