And The Machine
@ Somerset House, London, 15 July 2010
The opulent and slightly surreal setting of Somerset House
could not be more perfect for the eccentric and offbeat
stylings of Florence And The Machine. With a Number 1 album,
a couple of BRIT awards, comparisons with Kate Bush (yes,
really) and masses of critical acclaim heaped upon her 24-year-old
shoulders, Florence Welch is justifiably buoyant as she
floats on to the stage in a flowing cloud of white material.
may be 20 people on the stage from harp to choir to a string
quartet, not to mention a stuffed crow, but Florence flamboyantly
maintains interest during opener Drumming Song, and throughout
the night. Demonstrating her ability to command a wide range
of emotions and styles, from slow-burning melancholy to
upbeat raunch and swagger on successive songs, she exercises
that unique, distinctive voice that could bring even an
average song to life.
ending tender, string-based demo Swimming Song with her
distinctive, loud semi-yodel serves to remind that while
it is clearly a joyful, heartfelt call to the ears of the
screaming crowd, it may well grate on others. Florence's
passion, commitment and talent tonight cannot be doubted
makes much use of contrast and juxtaposition throughout
her music and performance. Latest single Cosmic Love, a
beautiful, twinkling torch song, sees the singer bathed
in blue light before Blinding sees her engulfed in a lightning
storm of manically flickering strobes. She bangs her drum,
a strikingly bold yet angelic presence at the front of the
stage, reflecting the song's conflicting ethereal nature
and heavy, churning guitar chords.
her confident yet strangely shy way, Florence then tells
the crowd, "This is one of our last gigs in London
for a while because we've got to go away and make some new
songs," before airing Strangeness And Charm. It's an
epic and uplifting affair featuring waves of effected guitar
and indicates Flo and co may well have the creative strength
to be a fixture for some time yet.
beautiful harp interlude from Tom Monger
then leads into My Boy Builds Coffins before the string
quartet comes to the fore for Candi Staton
cover, You've Got The Love. It's such a successful cover
because it retains the spirit of the original while genuinely
building upon it to create something new. The soft and hushed
intro builds into something loud and raucous as the beats
kick in and the crowd sings along. Energy levels stay at
their peak for Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up), which sees Florence
whirling around the stage like a playful child.
encore is introduced by the tale behind her dress. Having
been discovered in the flood-damaged basement of a shop
it was repaired just for this gig, says Florence of the
flowing, floating gown that is as individual and eccentric
as she is. When it comes to the final song, Dog Days Are
Over, the audience are given a lesson in jumping and the
singer succeeds in getting the whole crowd leaping in time.
And that is that, the end of a set rich in passion, spirit,
soul and energy, Florence's now torn dress a symbol of the
infectiously wild exuberance of her performance.
Ian Roullier, 07/2010