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Marina showcases the vibrant nature of the Human at Byline Bank Aragon Ballroom

Marina at Byline Bank Aragon Ballroom (Sara Tieman/WGN Radio)

“All positive emotions come from love. All negative emotions from fear. From love flows happiness, contentment, peace and joy. From fear comes anger,  hate, anxiety and guilt…there is only love or fear…when we are in a place of love, we cannot be at a place of fear,” says Marina Diamandis.

Love + Fear is the title of Marina’s 2019 tour and album, and her performance is split into those two parts. She begins her Byline Bank Aragon Ballroom set by singing of the moments that bring us joy and make us at peace. Marina opens this half of the show with “Handmade Heaven,” a colorful ode to nature and exploration.

Lyrics like “I envy the birds, high up in the trees / they live out their lives so purposefully” and “In this handmade heaven, we forget the time / ‘cause birds of a feather fly together” describe an understanding of what’s true and pure – of what can’t hurt us. People sometimes look within themselves and overthink when they struggle, but then comes a realization that there’s an entire world dealing with the same troubles or worse.

This song is a meditation, a break from the silent anxiety.

Marina dons a pink, shiny romper for this section of the performance, standing atop a two tier platform where her arms dance as she gives her all to the microphone. The platform has been a production element in Marina’s past performances, conveying her ever-present superstar persona. Marina Diamandis has always incorporated a wide color palette in her production, exhibiting her exuberance for life.

And while a song inspired by Kim Kardashian seems like it belongs on the “Fear” side, Marina leaves me wondering as she precedes “Enjoy Your Life” with “Primadonna.” Either she’s trying to convey that as humans, we can still have expectations that exceed reality and we can daydream about glitz and money. But in the long run, all that matters is taking the most out of the life we have.

It’s a juxtaposition we all live by: we can enjoy the want but we should keep our feet on the ground. In fact, it’s so true that Marina embraces humanness quite literally in the song, “I Am Not A Robot.” Marina stands alone for the majority of this song, pacing across the stage as she faces the audience.

“Love” is a commitment to vulnerability.

And then comes an outfit change into a white leotard with clear, crape sleeves and glistening white thigh-high boots. Marina’s voice is theatrical and rich and has the right tones to convey a rainbow of emotions and to present anthems.

But this tour’s stage production involves a lot of choreography. She heads up her “Fear” portion of the night with “Believe In Love” during which a man and woman dance together like birds in heat. They convey the love that so many of us fear.

And that’s why this particular song fits into the second half so well. In the middle of “Believe in Love,” Marina stands on the platform’s first tier on the side, with her body facing the dancing couple as she sings. She, the protagonist, opens herself to love for just a moment in this song, wearing pure white.

Throughout her discography, Marina has showcased a wide range of character and sound. Diehard fans  met her as an operatic pianist and singer combination in “Obsessions.” Her music then developed to pop anthems about breaking hearts and self-discovery on the Electra Heart album. That then became alternative disco in “Froot,” with the title song demonstrating an ethereal, self-loving and sometimes dark persona.

But that’s being human.

Marina didn’t spend a great amount of time addressing the audience between songs, but when she did, she showed appreciation for the dedication Chicago exhibited on a Monday night. In fact, the crowd was enveloped in neon, animal print, sequins, jewels and the flamboyance goes on. The audience’s own costume is a form of solidarity with the artist on stage.

Marina also shouted out to a Chicagoan family member, adding that her dad moved to Chicago from Greece at the age of 22. She was excited to share her relation to us.

That’s what Love + Fear is about anyway. The performance explores human traits that not all songwriters excel at describing.

And, man, what a voice.

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