On July 14th at 8:30 p.m., a light spiral appeared on the Meridian Hall stage in Toronto. Then a voice said, “Wanna know a secret?”
This is how Melanie Martinez opened the night. It would be no surprise if people walking outside the venue could hear the fans screaming at the appearance of Melanie on the stage. She was dressed like the pink four-eyed fairy from her latest album, Portals, her tour also used the album name as it spanned across North America and Europe.
The songwriter, singer and producer from Queens, New York, released Portals on March 3rd, as the last album of her Crybaby trilogy. The theme of the trilogy follows a character reborn, which explores the concept of rebirth and the afterlife. The show’s setlist consisted mainly of songs from the Portals album, which was bold since a setlist based on relatively new songs might be tricky for the fans to follow. However, there wasn’t a moment when the fans weren’t singing along.
The set followed the track order of the Portals album. It began with Death, Void, followed by Tunnel Vision, where two dancers performed a beautiful contemporary dance following Martinez’s voice and band. After that, the stage was filled with purple and green lights when Light Shower played. Then, a giant shell was set in the middle of the stage, where Melanie sat to sing, swinging her legs back and forward while the dancers moved around her. After the magical fairytale scene, the stage mood turned dark when a giant spiderweb arose. The purple and green lights were replaced with red and blue for the performance of the song, Spider Web.
Melanie Martinez’s concert was indeed a visual and musical spectacle. The stage resembled more a stage musical than a concert, with vines hanging from the ceiling and giant mushrooms around the stage floor. The scenography kept changing with every song as in a theatrical performance when the act or set changes. The lighting was also changing constantly, fitting the mood of every piece that, along with the screen’s animation, immersed the crowd in the portal’s world. It was reminiscent of Tim Burtons’s adaptation of Alice in Wonderland.
While Melanie Martinez has more presence among young people, people of all ages could be found in the seats of Meridian Hall. Even seniors accompanying younger fans seemed stunned by the performance. The event ended with the album’s last three songs, Powder, Pluto and Milk of the Siren. Melanie said goodbye to Toronto fans after a beautiful musical and visual experience.
Words and photos by Laura Agudelo