Florence + the Machine live in London
- By Bob Fear -
- Mar 12, 2012
Descending from her raised art deco dais, Florence’s grand stage entrance at Alexandra Palace’s Great Hall is a bit like when that Maria robot in Metropolis blinks in to life. Evoking the 1920s spirit further – those famous red flowing locks are all trussed and platted up in the style of her literary heroine Virginia Woolf. But the expressionist sci-fi influence is further in evidence via her Alex Noble-designed shiny green and gold cape that she dramatically parts to reveal a natty crushed velvet cat suit, complete with a glittering trim – an outfit she might have nicked off of Ziggy Stardust.
All of these theatrical trappings are now as integral to the Florence + The Machine experience as those lungs, those lyrics, those drums and that harp. And Miss Welch should have much more confidence in herself.
She completely deserves this sold out three-night run in this hallowed Victorian hall. It’s a full moon and we’re high up on the hill overlooking the whole of London. Would it be Midsummers Eve rather than a nippy March night I’m sure that Florence would feel far more comfortable dancing around a bonfire with burning torches, dancing the devil of doubt off of her back.
Tonight she has the jitters so she steals original Machinist Isabella Summers’ glass of ‘special water’. She expends such energy and control during her more concentrated of performances – from opener ‘If Only For A Night’ through to ‘What The Water Gave me’ to ‘Shake It Out’ – that as soon she breaks her own hypnotic spell she can’t help but to laugh and smile nervously, politely say hello to us all (individually if she could) and remark how nice it is to play on home turf.
Then she’s back in character – as Maria, Woolf, Lady Macbeth or some complex Electra type princess – reeling wildly in the space of one number from spiritually serene to ecstatic bacchanalian whirling dervishness. ‘Cosmic Love’ fills the Great Hall, a lovely reworking of ‘Between Two Lungs’ surprises and the accompanying heavenly choir come in to heir own for ‘Headlines’. After a neatly stripped back ‘Lover To Lover’, maybe it’s those nerves or maybe that water isn’t special enough, but the energy dips for ‘Leave My Body’ and ‘All This And Heaven Too’.
Florence summons her mystical power back up for ‘Rabbit Heart’ as she apologetically commands all the gentlemen to hoist their ladies up on to their shoulders. Then she has us all well and truly back under her hypnosis proper for ‘Dog Days Are Over’ as we all bounce in unison to those unrelenting drums and tambourine.
The string section has their moment on the orchestral encore of ‘You’ve Got The Love’ and she finally waves goodbye to us after latest single ‘Never Let Me Go.’ Hopefully the accompanying magic of the full moon has convinced Florence that she is truly worthy of filling Ally Pally and bewitching her entire audience. She has already survived X Factor and Brit Awards TV appearances broadcast live to millions so hopefully after tonight she might realise that she has indeed shaken that jitter-inducing devil off of her back for good.