Marina glitters for Katy Perry fans

By John Benson

Under the band name Marina & the Diamonds, Welsh singer-songwriter Marina Diamandis is an unknown commodity stateside. However, anonymity won’t be a problem much longer now that the 25-year-old is one of the openers for Katy Perry’s “California Dreams Tour,” which rolls through Cleveland tonight for a show at Quicken Loans Arena.

Diamandis, who is the Marina in the band moniker (with the Diamonds being her fans, not her backing band), said she had to consider the pros and cons when the offer came in from Perry. It turned out she was up for the challenge and more.

“You have nothing to lose, and only have something to gain,” said Diamandis, calling from Philadelphia. “With Katy, because a lot of people don’t know me, really I just have to play the catchiest songs as possible. You know how boring it is to see someone who you don’t know. You’ve got to really pull people in.”

So far Diamandis has been pulling stateside critics in with her 2010 debut “The Family Jewels,” which is an amalgamative release catering to influences ranging from PJ Harvey and Kate Bush to Blondie and even Nirvana. There’s also a bit of Tori Amos in the conversation. Stylistically, her album has a pop sensibility with a new wave heartbeat. Or maybe that’s vice-versa. Overseas her biggest singles to date are the popish “Hollywood” and the message-song “I Am Not a Robot.” Neither of which did anything in the states.

“I suppose the nature of [‘The Family Jewels’] has pros and cons,” Diamandis said. “That it’s like a pop album, so it’s kind of too indie for pop people and too pop for indie in some ways. I think it’s done really well for a leftfield pop album. But that also means the fans I’ve garnered are not in it because it’s trendy or of the moment. It’s been hard to categorize, which is a nightmare for marketing. But the good news is I can basically go in any direction. I don’t feel any pressure to stick to anything. And I’m having fun in going ways people probably won’t expect me to. So in many ways, it’s been a really great first album to start with. I think it lets you go somewhere.”

Diamandis views the Perry tour as an opportunity.

“It’s a challenge to me to not perform in front of my fans,” she said. “You don’t hang on to every word of the opener unless they blow you away and you’re like, ‘Who the (expletive) is this?’”

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