FLORENCE + THE MACHINE
Live at the Riverstage, Brisbane.
Supported by: Blood Orange
Review by Jo Michelmore
Florence + The Machine - 'Leave My Body' and 'Seven Devils,' live at the Riverstage.
Sometimes you can go to a gig and love it, dance and bounce and sing along and have the time of your life and remember it fondly in the weeks following. Sometimes, just every now and then, you can go to a gig; sometimes in a tiny venue, sometimes in a giant arena and something magical happens. It’s indescribable. It’s not words but a feeling, a shiver, a wave of unspeakable goose bumps that will stick with you for life. I love all forms of music, especially live music, but this is when I love music the most.
It was a chilly evening for an outdoor gig, but the cool wind was quickly forgotten when support act Blood Orange appeared on stage, a man, a mac and a guitar, he managed to make some impressive sounds with such simple things. Clearly a lover of all things ‘80’s, his smooth half hour set was good enough to keep the eager crowd happy and he was a brave guy, covering the artist he was supporting, but it worked incredibly well, his fabulous version of ‘Never Let Me Go’ keeping the crowd singing along at the top of their lungs. Such an interesting act, Blood Orange is a name I’ll be keeping my ears and eyes open for in the future.
As the lights dim, the crowd roars and Florence’s Machine make their way across the art deco inspired stage; the haunting, chiming bells of the intro to ‘Only If For A Night’ hang in the cold night air and Florence, draped in a beautiful bead encrusted deco inspired cape makes her way to the microphone before that first note of the keyboard hits hard. The lyric “And I Had A Dream…” encompasses the feeling of the audience and this performance, only seconds in, was already dreamlike, a stunning spectacle that would not be easily forgotten. They play through the first three songs with little chatter, each song better than the last, Florence running and jumping manically around the stage, keeping all members of the audience happy by paying attention to everyone equally. From the people in the very front row to those on top of the hill, her stage presence is incredible. Her cape dramatically flowing with every elf like movement, it’s obvious this band understands the importance of a show. They are here to entertain, which comes especially easily to the exceptionally charming Florence Welch. About half way through the set we get to know her a little better. As she chats to the audience in her quiet, high pitched voice she asks them to, "see whoever they have come to the show with, whether you love them, like them, or don’t really know them, just lift them up." Then she bounces feverishly around the stage counting all the people now atop others shoulders, it’s fun Florence style, before she launches into ‘Rabbit Heart’ and ‘Say My Name’. It’s obvious she clearly enjoys what she does and this translates to the audience all the way through the set. There is an interesting take on ‘Heartlines,’ one of the richer songs from the Ceremonials album. Stripped back as the two acoustic guitarists sit forward on the stage, it’s a beautiful rendition and one of the great things about live music; you get to hear such different interpretations of your favourite songs. ‘Seven Devils’ is another highpoint, the band creating such layered sounds and the control Florence has over her voice is astonishing.
The highlights continue, every song unbelievably more amazing than the last. ‘Leave My Body’ is dramatic and intense; ‘Shake it Out’ is incredible enough for me to make an international mobile call so someone (hi editor!) on the other side of the planet could experience it too (Editor - much appreciated!); ‘Dog Days’ is pure fun, so much bouncing and singing along, I can’t imagine anyone in the venue not enjoying it. The band leave the stage an hour and twenty minutes after they first appear, but this is nowhere near enough for the sold out crowd, and after some screaming, pleading and stomping, they re-appear for two more songs, finishing this show and their Australian tour with 'No Light, No Light.' I’m left astonished, happy to have been involved and sad for it to be over. That is the curse of live music.
Sometimes there are just no words to describe music, especially live music, to describe the feeling of absolute elation that the sounds of guitars and keyboards and harps and drums and incredible voices give you. There’s just no words have been invented to describe what those feelings are and that’s the beauty of live music; reading about it is ok, but you need to experience it to appreciate it. I am so glad I got to experience this one. The goosebumps re-appear just thinking about it. This is one of those special live experiences I will love and keep the thoughts with me for a long time yet. I love gigs, but I don’t even want another one for a little while just so I can savour this one. Thank you so much Florence and the Machine, please, come again soon?