Live Review: Florence + the Machine, Liverpool Echo Arena, 10th December 2012
The gig opened with Florence stood behind an art deco screen hidden by her elaborate stage design; a cleverly placed backlight creating the perfectly dramatic silhouette of her petit frame. The band began to play the theatrical beginning notes of Only If For A Night, the opening track from the second album Ceremonials.
Being the Ceremonials tour the majority of the set was songs from the second album. However, the set was lightly sprinkled with some of the crowd pleasers; Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up) and You’ve Got the Love to name just two. Whilst Florence Welch has never been a shy performer, the growth in her delivery and style is blatantly obvious. She exudes confidence and command, flinging herself across the stage in a maniacal rag doll manner and altering the arrangements of the songs to suit her whim. Frankly, if there was ever a doubt as to who the leader of this group was then her latest live performances have answered that question.
You have to commend Welch for her ability to connect with her audience. They feed off her energy. She commands them to jump – they jump; she waves her arm in a certain way – the follow with the same synchronicity of her movement and with Pied Piper gusto. This lady gives it her all. You get the feeling that she performs every song like it might be the last she will ever get to sing.
It would be difficult not to make comparisons with Welch to Kate Bush. The drama of her costume and her performance styles draw heavy parallels and Bush’s influence is almost palpable. Yet, if Welch were to perform differently the power of her music might lose that power and intensity.
One unexpected highlight of her set was her unexpected cover of The Beatles Oh! Darling. The majesty and intensity of the track suited Welch’s voice and was a wise and welcome addition to her set.
The fifteen song set lasted for a little over one hour and forty minutes for which approximately 80% of it Florence Welch scurried from various parts of the stage. The limitations of the stage seem to entrap Welch as she bounced from side to side giving everything she had to each and every track she sang.
Obviously Florence + the Machine could not perform all the tracks from the latest album, however, the band did not play All This and Heaven Too which is by a far stretch the greatest track from the follow up to 2009s Lungs which is a shame because the style of song very clearly lends itself to an arena performance.
Hopefully, Florence + the Machine will be touring again in the New Year. If the Ceremonials tour is anything to go by then those who are lucky enough to get themselves a ticket are in for a treat. Welch and co. are on the top of their game. Go and see them. That is an order.
Both Florence + the Machine’s albums – Lungs (2009) and Ceremonials (2012) are available now from all good music retailers.