Concert Review: MARINA Serves Flamboyant, Charismatic Pop in Fabulous, Eclectic Set

Words and Images by Rachael Crouch


The first takeaway that I walked away with after MARINA’s “Ancient Dreams in a Modern Land” tour stop in Detroit Feb. 17th was the sheer passion of her fanbase, myself included. The hallowed art-deco space of The Fillmore was shoulder-to-shoulder with fans, spanning from Gen-Zers who picked up her music after it trended on TikTok to OG millennial stans who have been around since Electra Heart remained supreme (and perhaps even earlier with “I am Not a Robot” from her debut,The Family Jewels.) Despite shedding her famous moniker, “Marina and the Diamonds”, which alluded to her tight-knit relationship with her fanbase, it was clear that her relationship with them was stronger than ever. As the afternoon progressed, I was unsure if I would make it to the show, with my drive from Columbus to Detroit turning into five hours rather than the standard three. In fact, I made it to the photo pit with only three minutes to spare before she took to the stage. When the crowd roared with excitement as she took to the stage and I first heard her voice, it became apparent to me that MARINA is the only artist that I would drive through a dangerous snowstorm to see.

MARINA has always been a unique character in the so-called subgenre of “Tumblr-era” pop stars; think Lana Del Rey, fka Twigs, Florence + The Machine, and Halsey (remember this photo that sent shockwaves across the internet?) Marina Diamandis was an intellectual, with thought-provoking, eccentric, and often existentialist lyrics. What set her apart was her personality, which was often tongue-in-cheek and never pretentious. This shone throughout the entire set, from her effortless movement onstage to her vocals to her interactions with fans. Emerging from a shroud of red-lit smoke, Diamandis slithered onstage in a gorgeous custom black gown with campy black and white feathers trimming the edges and a playful thigh-high slit. The dress’ feathers accentuated her movement, flitting about with a joyful spring to it that reflected the emotion of her music.

She made it clear that she was there to promote her excellent new record Ancient Dreams in a Modern Land, but that’s not to say that she paid her classic hits dust – there was something for everyone in her jam-packed 19-song set. She started off incredibly strong with the titular track from the album and following it up with lead single “Venus Fly Trap”, packing a fiery, defiant attitude that was feminist without being stereotypical or performative. The titular track of Diamandis’ 2015 album Froot was a highlight of the evening, with both Diamandis and the crowd before her singing their hearts out. The Family Jewels hits “I am Not a Robot” and “Hollywood” blended seamlessly with Marina’s newer material, and “Oh No!” had an extra foot on the gas thanks to its success on TikTok. Froot standouts “Forget” and “Can’t Pin Me Down” packed a one-two punch, with its confident and defiant lyrics sounding even more powerful now than ever. Everyone’s phones were in the air when Marina performed “Teen Idle” off of 2012’s Electra Heart, which acted as an unofficial anthem for the “sad girl” Tumblr subculture of the mid-2010s. The song’s chorus of one feeling they wasted their teen years away hit especially hard in a world where millions of teens’ high school and college years were stripped from them due to the Covid pandemic. Even more vulnerable was the ironically titled “Happy”, the opening track of Froot, which Diamandis performed on the piano. In this context, “Happy” felt like an incredibly powerful emotional catharsis. Who can’t relate to the third verse lyrics, “Don’t go out / much at all” right now?

Diamandis’ distinctive voice sounded even better in person, with its incredibly elastic strength on full display. She sneered angrily during “You Can’t Pin Me Down,” sang percussively with precision on “Purge the Poison,” and even soared to operatic heights during the bridges of several songs. Diamandis ended by unleashing “Electra Heart” highlights and cultural touchstones “How to Be a Heartbreaker” and “Bubblegum Bitch”, leading the ongoing momentum that built throughout the show to a candy-colored pop-punk explosion. After a moment or two, Marina returned to the stage to wish us a heartfelt “Goodbye,” performing the track of the same name from Ancient Dreams in a Modern Land. It was a perfect, tender ending for an action-packed night that only Marina, an artist with one of the most inventive, exciting discographies of our time, could pull off.


1: Ancient Dreams in a Modern Land
2: Venus Fly Trap
3: Froot
4: Man’s World
5: Are You Satisfied?
6: I am Not a Robot
7: Oh No!
8: Purge the Poison
9: Handmade Heaven
10: Hollywood
11: Happy
12: Forget
13: Can’t Pin Me Down
14: Teen Idle
15: Highly Emotional People
16: I Love You but I Love Me More
17: How to Be a Heartbreaker
18: Bubblegum Bitch
19: Goodbye

Extra special thank you to Tiana Timmerburg at Atlantic Records for making this possible.