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A few thoughts on Marina & the Diamonds & the Skyway as music venue

Posted by: Jon Bream under Music, Behind the scenes, Nightlife Updated: May 20, 2013 - 4:10 AM

A few thoughts on Marina & the Diamonds and the Skyway Theatre, which I was experiencing as a music venue for the first time on Sunday.

• The Skyway, the old downtown Minneapolis multi-plex, has potential as a live music space. It has room for 2,000, which makes it bigger than First Avenue (1,600) and smaller than the Myth (3,200). The Skyway’s deep balcony accommodates about 700. The sightlines are good from both levels because the main floor is graded/sloped (think a movie theater with the seats torn out, duh) and the balcony has many steps/levels (and no seats, either, except in two “VIP boxes” in the front corners.).

• The sound was very good on the main floor, pretty good (read not as loud) in the balcony.

• The Skyway has featured Andy Grammer, the Big Gigantic and a couple other live acts, as well as lots of DJs.

• The balcony could definitely use reflector tape or some other device to mark the steps/levels. I could envision clubgoers taking a tumble in the dark during a show.

• There is one bar on the main floor and the others are in the spacious lobby, which also has chairs on which to lounge.

• The place is clearly worse for wear. At least, the air-conditioning worked, but the carpeting on the main staircase was badly torn in spots and the escalator did not work. And, after all these years, the place still smelled of popcorn.

• As for Marina, it’s easy to see why she’s a star in England (she’s from Wales) and why the Skyway crowd – mostly teen and 20-something women and some young gay men-- enjoyed her. Her lyrics speak to the frustrations, insecurities and dreams of youth. And she has built a following with an appearance at the Triple Rock, a slot opening for Coldplay last year at the Xcel Energy Center and lots of viral buzz.

 

• Musically, the 27-year-old’s piano ballads suggested Regina Spektor without the sophistication and deep talent. Her dramatic dance-pop brought to mind Florence + the Machine without the vocal power and Imogen Heap without the inventiveness.

• As forthy fun as “Primadonna,” “Radioactive” and “How to Be a Heartbreaker” were, they were pretty generic. Maybe that explains why clubgoers were Pogoing and not actually dancing to those numbers.

• Backed by a four-piece band, Marina Diamandis (her father is Greek, her mother Welsh) demonstrated the panache and quirkiness of a star – from dancing with a manikin to wearing beauty queen sashes with faux titles (“Teen Idle,” which is one of her songs, was one) to sporting a tiny heart on her left cheek (which many female clubgoers imitated).
 

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