Florence Shines Bright at Alexandra Palace, Live Review of Florence and the Machine, Saturday 11th 2012

Posted: March 11, 2012 in Art Rock, Indie, Pop, Popular Music
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Florence and the Machine, Live at Alexandra Palace,  Saturday 10th March 2012

Taking a long walk up the energy sapping hill from the station to Alexandra Palace, “The People’s palace” of entertainment built in 1876, I was reminded of why I don’t go to this venue very often. However, it is a beautiful giant Victorian masterpiece with stunning views in London, especially pretty at night-time with twinkling lights of the city in a 180 degree panorama. And it’s totally appropriate place to see one of the London legs of the Ceremonials tour of Florence and the Machine. Capable of accommodating 10,000 standing, the venue undoubtedly reached its capacity for this very special concert.

Having arrived later than planned, we caught the tail end of Alpines support gig. With some similarity to the vocal style of Florence, the electro-pop duo sounded fresh and are worth a future look – possibly a review.

The other support act was The Horrors , a group from Southend-on-Sea, whose music has a grungy electro feel. And they introduced a surprise guest into the proceedings – Florence Welch herself to sing on what I believe was their recent single Still Life. Rapturous applause went up and the hall was not even yet full. The Horrors were on for about 50 mins – long for a support and they effectively showcased much of their new album “Skying”.

Florence Welch performs duet with The Horrors, live at Alexandra Palace, London, March 11th 2012

Florence Welch performs duet with The Horrors, live at Alexandra Palace, London, March 11th 2012

At around 9:15pm, the curtain that had been veiling the main stage set was rather unceremoniously and awkwardly tugged off by stage crew and made to drop to the ground. The Machine part of Florence and the Machine came on, not just guitars keyboard and but vocalists and an impressive looking string section. Expectations rose but curiously Florence did not appear for another 7 or 8 minutes. Then it all became clear, an announcement from the BBC Radio 6 presenter, the show was being broadcast live : that gave the atmosphere a special buzz.   Shortly after a tall caped figure strode purposely onto the stage.  Gone was the slightly reticent, slightly quirky figure with flowing robes from the Lungs era. This was a confident assured personality who was completely focused and meant business. She was in character as she delivered for opening song “Only if For The Night” , the first of many, many gymnastic-like vocals.  Next  song “What the Water gave me” gave vent to the raw emotional power of  Florence  voice as a well being a very full and round musical piece involving the whole band and orchestra, reminding me rather stylistically of 70’s Fleetwood Mac. The taut baseline was slightly less pronounced than on the studio album but that did not detract from a beautifully delivered piece as Florence swished her cape around.

Florence Welch's Caped Performance, Florence and the Machine, Alexandra Palace, March 10th 2012

Florence Welch's Caped Performance, Florence and the Machine, Alexandra Palace, March 10th 2012

The banter was only occasional with Florence making reference at one moment to the fact she was wearing a cat suit with her mother present. She waived in our general direction as her mother and family were standing – on a raised scaffold platform built specially for the VIPs just next to us.

Florence and the Machine, Live at Alexandra Palace, London, March 10th 2012

Florence and the Machine, Live at Alexandra Palace, London, March 10th 2012

This concert was very much centred on the fine album “Ceremonials” and many anthemic tracks were played. Particularly lively and enjoyable from this new album were “Shake it out” and “Heartlines”, a song that was written about being away from home and the importance of friends and family, “Strange to be doing it in London while I ‘m in my home town”, she said.   Later on, in the show Florence announced she was giving us one for the girls -“Rabbit Heart” and one for the boys “Say my Name”.  She let loose during these numbers bouncing from one side of the stage and then to the other. The crowd were in full flow by this time, hands in the air, pointing, fisting pumps. The climatic and dramatic power of “No Light No Light” was like a musical out of body experience. Off the stage for about 3 or 4 minutes, Florence came back and after introducing The Machine, we were all getting down to probably the best rendition I have ever heard her sing of “You Got the Love”. The passion and fire with which this was sung radiated throughout the audience.  Final song “Never Let Me Go”, with reference to sea and oceans had a feel good choral part providing an almost angelic aura that got the audience waving their outstretched arms over their heads slowly and rhythmically.  My niece who went with me to the show was overcome emotionally. I can understand why. Florence Welch’s voice for every song was technically awesome and she oozed performance from every pore. She was hailed a couple of years ago as the Queen of Indie, now she can rightly be crowned the Queen of Art Rock.

I’ll be seeing Florence and the Machine’s second London show in April at the Royal Albert Hall with a further review to follow.

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