Florence + the Machine (photo: Jess Luoma)
A silhouetted machine lay a swelling bed of sound–harp, horns and harmonies–and an eager crowd roared as Florence made her first appearance. Her volcanic vocals remained polished throughout the course of the night, straying very little from the quality of her studio album, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful. Florence threw caution and her tambourine to the wind as she sprinted across stage, untamed mane mimicking a fiery contrail behind her during Pockets Full of Stone.
Not once did her performance or soft-spoken banter feel inauthentic or scripted. During Ship To Wreck, Florence playfully acted as a conductor to an arena of onlookers who cheerfully transformed into her choir– a unified mass all relating to the very human trials of losing touch or drinking too much. There were smiles all around and flower crowns thrown at her bohemian feet. Throughout the course of the night, it was clear: this woman has tapped into her potential.
She embodied Shake It Out as she free-spiritedly pirouetted and skipped across stage fully emoting every lyric bringing along wide-eyed fans through every twist and turn. It would seem as if the show were coming to it’s utter climax as Florence departed the stage into the middle of the arena to serenade screaming fans with Never Let Me Go. But there was much more up her billowing silk sleeves– a request for all phones to be put down, a sweet tribute to American cities (hence How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful), and perhaps most notable, an impromptu a cappella Swimming Song backed by the claps of her fans. The song conveniently segued into Cosmic Love, both of which were written in an admitted hung over, reflective stupor. She then instructed fans to praise their neighbor, relinquish an article of clothing as a symbol of their worry, spin it above their heads and jump as high and sing as loud as possible. Before you could say, “salt and pepper prawns”, shirts were tossed on stage forming one giant propeller for Florence to wield.
The night ended on a truly magical note. Waving flashlight apps formed a constellation of fandom, drawing Florence out for a stellar encore. She showed strength in her vulnerability as she resolutely plunged herself into the arms of her fans during What Kind of Man and finishing with Drumming Song.
Florence and her machine have transcended any sort of corporate pop formula and have discovered a pathway to be unapologetically human, yet unshakably talented. Florence Welch is a beautiful mess.