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Its Halloween, Zombie Aid is underway in Manchester; you’ll find all manner of ghouls, zombies and horror freaks taking to the streets in one huge parade all in the name of charity. Unfortunately we missed it this year but we had another treat in store. The Ritz once earned its reputation having the dubious titles of ‘knicker night' or 'grab a granny' evenings, but for me it evoked memories of a misspent youth, Sunday northern soul all-dayers, Kid Creole & his Coconuts and rubbing shoulders with the late, great Divine and here we are again 20 years later. It’s our third show of the week, we are feeling a tad jaded, but this is just what the doctor ordered. We’ve witnessed The Psychedelic Furs, soundtrack of the 80’s to Imogen Heap’s haunting melodies to tonight’s show, such a diverse genre of music, that’s what makes it fun.

We’re here to see the latest, glitzy, quirky, electro pop sensation Marina And The Diamonds. Marina is a Welsh singer-songwriter of Greek descent, who came to our attention around February 2010, after releasing her debut album The Family Jewels and embarking on her first headlining tour the same month. Tonight they are Marina And The Demons (as stated on the drum kit skin) and we have the stage festooned with all manner of hammer horror, from glimmering skeletons, glow green & purple lights to spidery webs. All tickets are sold out!

The guest slot tonight was filled by a pop/soul/dance outfit called CocknbullKid, fronted by a lively 22 year old singer dressed in glowing white called Anita Blay, her musicians dressed as Clockwork Orange characters. Anita lights the huge room with her beaming smile and infectious personality, so immediately we warmed to her. We were given a monumental performance and the crowd responded. Singing songs with titles such as ‘Asthma Attack’, ‘Hold Onto Your Misery’ and ‘Cocknbullkidd’ this ain’t no fluffy song writer. There seemed to be some problems with the sound as we had a flurry of speakers being hauled around the stage, but from where we were standing you could barely notice. Check them out here:


Almost time… …as a teaser we are treated to a backstage projection of a James Bond themed clip, with silhouettes, diamonds and fire, amidst the ambience appeared the Diamonds/Demons and took their places behind their respective musical instrument. Marina Lambrini Diamandis (her full name) was the last to appear on stage, gliding through the smoky atmosphere under spooky green lighting effects, a stunning woman, with windswept locks cascading around her hourglass frame (a figure to die for indeed!), creating a majestic ethereal effect. Dressed like a Vampire or as Marina said “Murder Bride”, decked out in a floor length black sheath dress, silver wedge shoes, flashes of white and blue hair streaks and ghostly make up (courtesy of Danny @ Mac, Manchester). The whole effect was breathtaking, I do like dramatic openings, and this has to be one of the best. She launched the show singing ‘The Family Jewels’ or ‘Family Ghouls’ – Welcome to the family jewels! After getting that out of the way she whizzed into "The Outsider", then said a cheery hello, and pronounced the audience Demons for one night only. Introducing the band much later she gave them Halloween themed names and stated “Ok, so we were bored today” (but its easy to forget the band exist given her magnetic presence).


I had mixed expectations, maybe a night of unashamedly pop music, perhaps a bit of electric pop fluffiness and crowd of gaggling teens and a disappointment in store? But to be honest I was pleasantly surprised at the range of Marina’s husky vocals and the rich electro grooves which came thrusting out, infecting our brains. The audience were mixed in ages, although the majority I would say were under 25. Marina is a self taught artist with no airs and graces, which became apparent when she disclosed to the crowd how she’d drank her self under the table last night in Dublin and vomited in the toilet after 8 doubles of Jamesons.


A couple of outfit changes (reminded me of Paloma Faith) we had the huge sunglasses (Dame Edna Average style – a pair with GAY emblazed) singing ‘Oh No’ and during ‘I Am Not A Robot’ she appeared under dramatic blue lighting, wearing a simple black dress with a huge electronic heart pumping red lights, along the way she threw in the mix a coca cola baseball cap with huge white feathers.


We had a preview of her new single ‘Jealousy’ which goes down a bomb as she takes command of the crowd. During ‘Hollywood’ Marina appeared brandishing a huge burger in her hand, dressed in her ’Burger Queen’ outfit, which consisted of stars and stripes trousers, and cheerleader jacket. I love this song, reflecting my views on the land of freedom (check out the video on youtube) but not sure the tacky burger prop enhance the performance. Marina it has to be said is really one of the best of her kind at the moment, alongside Paloma and Florence, on a few occasions I saw flashes of a modern day Siouxsie (Siouxsie and the Banshees fans all wince). We had an encore and Marina returned wearing blue & white sequinned striped pyjamas, glimmering at the keyboards she proceeded to belt out ‘Numb’ a slower temp track.


Most of the songs are full of colossal beats, which start off in a slow rumble and head into catchy thunderous, robust vocals and jolly sing-along lyrics, of which I had the displeasure of having bellowed into my ear drums from behind me by an eager fan who knew all the words to every song. Its refreshing that whilst the music isn’t totally unique, Marinas lyrics do have their own charm, the writing material is fun, quirky and very 2010. Its definitely a girlie, cabaret style show and if that’s your thing it couldn’t fail to entertain, its not music that is going to change the world or indeed rock n roll but from where we were stood no one in the house went away disappointed.

Diamonds really are a girls best friend, all in all a thrilling, sparkling night, lets hope she gets her own dream to be “massive”!


The Family Jewels
The Outsider
Are You Satisfied?
Hermit The Frog
I Am Not A Robot
Oh No!
Mowgli's Road

Review/photos/live video by Mel

Full set of photos here: