As you might have guessed by its name, the Holy Trinity Church in Leeds is the sort of imposing venue that the beard-scratching acoustica of Fleet Foxes and solo strumming of Laura Marling would flourish in. But razzle-dazzle showbiz glam? NME ain’t so sure. As the audience sit in near-silence upon hard church pews, not daring to raise their voices above a whisper, just how will pop’s shiniest hope – literally and metaphorically – fare within these blessed walls?
Bounding on shoeless, the shoulder-padded sensation that is Marina gleefully breaks the sacred silence. Thrashing about to ‘Seventeen’, which owes a hefty debt to Stiff Records’ resident new wave kook Lene Lovich, Marina’s knackering workout moves point to a possible celebrity fitness video come Christmas. In fact, as she leaps about in front of the church’s gilded crucifix, proceedings quickly begin to resemble the video for Madonna’s ‘Like A Prayer’, with Marina’s dazzling vocals ringing out on the delicious, towering freak-soul of ‘I Am Not A Robot’ as her arms stretch to the heavens before she drops spectacularly to her knees. Thrilling ain’t the half of it.
Whereas Lady GaGa and Katy Perry’s ’80s throwback looks seem ironic and snarky, it’s obvious that Marina’s is for real. Her cruise-ship glamour pitches her as a gladiatorial Joan Collins infused with a healthy dose of Dolly Parton homebody charm. Her hectic cover of Gwen Stefani’s ‘What You Waiting For?’ opens a window on to the Kate Bush comparisons that have been heaped on the London-based singer – her luminous vocals swoop and soar with blissful eccentricity while her arms flamboyantly tick-tock around an imaginary clock face. “This is why I say I want a Britney microphone,” she grins, bemoaning her lack of a flashy headset as her mic lead twice becomes detached during the song. “They keep saying no!”
Sitting down behind a keyboard for the slow-burning Regina Spektor spine-tingles of ‘Obsessions’, Marina’s tunes finally seem more apt for a church, but the hush doesn’t last for long, as the song bounces into a ska breakdown. A crowning finale of ‘Mowgli’s Road’ sees Marina diving into the mic and yelping out a triumphant “Cuckoo!” Amen