From ethereal grace to wild exuberance, and everything in between, Florence + The Machine, at the sold out Riverstage, was a spectacular evening. Marlon Williams did a sensational job welcoming and holding the crowd. With a flawless folk/alt-country style set, it was the perfect compliment to the feminine power of Florence Welch.
The stage was beautifully set to showcase the incredible eight-piece band and Florence was spellbinding from the first notes of opening track, ‘June’. Even though she says she’s a shy person, she seemed to own it more and more until the last notes of final track for the show, ‘Shake It Out’. Florence moved from brief interaction between songs at the beginning of the show, to leaping into the crowd, dancing and singing to individuals while remaining pitch perfect by the time they hit the track, ‘Delilah’.
The set list was a showcase of the power of their 10 year back catalogue, from older hits like ‘Cosmic Love’ to ‘South London Forever’ from latest album ‘Higher Than Hope’. Hope is clearly a theme for Florence in these ‘tough times’, during the set she implored the crowd to ‘get as hippy as possible’ and all hold hands, creating a ‘collective union’ because ‘hope is an action’. Things got even more hippy as the full moon rose above the crowd, Florence asking everyone to think about what to let go of, what to manifest with the moon.
Whilst each song inspired the entire crowd to dance, ‘Dog Days Are Over’ was a definite crowd pleaser. The ultimate performer, Florence chose that moment to pause, in the middle of the song and ask, with great humour, that everyone put away the ‘fucking phone and have an experience’. This light-hearted joy in the moment and playfulness can be best be captured by Florence describing herself as ‘only partly grown up, still barefoot and doing pirouettes for a living’.
Let’s hope she keeps doing those pirouettes as the show, an amazing band led by a strong woman with a powerful message and voice to match, was a fantastic experience. Those who have seen Florence + The Machine before will be reminded why they keep going back, those of us who hadn’t will not miss a show again.
IMAGES (c) NJA Photography