Florence and the Machine @ The Palace, Melbourne. Feb 3, 2010. By Jordana Borensztajn.
There aren’t many gigs I wish I could re-live. In fact, all too often I find myself at shows wondering how much more time I must endure. But not last night. The fantasy world created by Florence and the Machine was captivating. It was an adventure I hoped would never end.
After seeing Florence Welch perform at St Jerome’s Laneway festival, I knew I was in for a treat. The 24-year-old UK songbird breathes life and passion into every track, taking fans far away from the rules, restrictions and confines of the daily grind, transporting them into another realm altogether.
Every movement, every thought, and every emotion that Welch offers up is filled with intensity and passion. She’s modest, uninhibited, and above all, willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, performance after performance, in order to deliver the ultimate experience to fans.
Looking back at Florence’s set, it’s near impossible to pick the stand-out tracks. Highlights were the incredibly seductive and euphoric rendition of “I’m Not Calling You A Liar,” the jazz, folk and soul-heavy ripper track “Drumming Song,” the very ambitious “Cosmic Love”, and the pop-oriented “Hurricane Drunk.”
Other killer songs were the lyrically intriguing “My Boy Builds Coffins,” her anthemic rendition of the gospel-pop hit “Dog Days are Over” -- through which Welch got the entire sold-out crowd waving their hands in the air and jumping up and down in sync -- or my personal favourite, and her closing track, the mind-blowing “Rabbit Heart (Raise it Up).”
Dressed in a goth-inspired black and gold dress, Welch's microphone was laced with flowers and her on-stage 'machine' featured a guitarist, a bassist, a drummer, and even a harpist. Welch got lost in the drama of every track and despite the almost intolerable heat inside The Palace, there wasn't one second when the wild red head wasn't thrashing, dashing and swooping around the stage.
Proving what I already knew, Welch executed impeccable control over her voice. Using it as an incredibly powerful instrument, she effortlessy glided through songs, seamlessly dashing and weaving from tender, jaw-dropping tracks, to hauntingly beautiful and unexpectedly chaotic moments. In between songs she had banter with the audience and gave a lot of herself, ripping flowers off her microphone stand, and even tearing her necklace apart to throw small pieces to her fans.
Making it onto the BBC Sound of 2009 list, featuring on the NME Awards tour, and particularly winning a Critics Choice award requires a level of talent and commitment that many newcomers wouldn’t be able to maintain. Hopefully the growing spotlight on Welch, and all of the pressures and accolades that come her way, will impact her record sales rather than her passion, dedication and commitment to her craft.
Welch's attitude, energy, talent and vigor is too rare in music these days. Fusing garage rock, punk, jazz, soul and pop, Welch juxtaposes dark themes inside beautiful music arrangements, pushing any and all boundaries within her reach.
While Florence and the Machine surfaced around the same time as Little Boots and La Roux, she's markedly different from the seemingly never-ending Lily Allen VS Amy Winehouse era of artists that have spawned out of the UK over the last couple of years.
Welch defied the odds to put on two spectacular shows for Melbourne fans. She can’t be categorised or pinned down, and any attempt at labeling Florence would last for a fleeting moment, at most. While I'm not a huge believer in expecting the unexpected, I change my stance when it comes to Welch as she surpasses expectations each and every time.