Since 2010, Florence and the Machine have gone from selling out the Mezzanine, to the 2,800-seat Fox Theatre to nearly selling out the 22,000-capacity Shoreline Amphitheatre Friday.
Now with two popular albums in her catalogue, Florence Welch is more than capable of drawing a crowd. What her songs lack in uniqueness – about halfway through the set you begin to notice the new material sounds very similar to the old – she more than makes up for with her enthusiasm and freshness. Welch has continued to tinker with the live performance over the course of her three American tours.
Friday night at Shoreline, Welch effortlessly fused tunes from her second album, Ceremonials, with those from debut Lungs. With a stage backdrop that resembled the façade of the Chrysler Building in New York, or the lobby of some fancy hotel, she took the stage with two news songs, including “What the Water Gave Me.”
Welch began to jog back and forth between the two sides of the theater’s seated section, something she would continue to do every couple of songs. The rest of the set was spent twirling like a ballerina and striking dramatic poses in front of the microphone. And singing, of course. Welch has amazing pipes, which fans love her for, rather than a skimpy wardrobe typical of pop starlets. In fact, Welch remarked at one point, that she spent the day thrift store shopping on Haight Street.
What continues to be absent from Florence and the Machine’s sets is the Machine. Welch isn’t exactly a solo artist, but her band is often bathed in shadows, without a chance to shine. One has to wonder what Isabella Summers, the keyboardist who started the band along with Welch, thinks in her corner of the stage.
Welch and her band performed most of the hits from the debut album, including “Cosmic Love,” “Dog Days Are Over” and “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up).” She introduced that one as a song of human sacrifice and asked the men to pick up women on their shoulders.
The best of the newer material included main set closers “Shake It Out” and “No Light,” the synthy “Spectrum,” and a stripped down version of “Heartlines.” The latter provided a mellow respite from the otherwise percussion-heavy performance.